In an age where horror cinema has shown us every part of the human anatomy in graphic detail, it begs the question, how much further can it go? That was a question answered by director Tom Six when he conceived of an idea that came out of a conversation with some friends regarding suitable punishment for child molesters. Six, and his energetic Dutch accent, suggested they should have their mouths sewn to the ass of a fat truck driver.
And thus, The Human Centipede was born.
Much like Hostel before it, The Human Centipede has been billed as one of the nastiest films of recent years but, if one were so inclined to look past the hyperbole, what Tom Six has presented is a formulaic and pedestrian horror film that relies a little too heavily on its revolting concept and little else.
There is little plot to speak of. Two American tourists, Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie), find themselves stuck in the woods with a flat tyre. In looking for help, they stumble across the house of one Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser), the ‘leading world-renowned expert at separating conjoined twins’. After drugging the unlucky pair, as well as kidnapping a third victim, Japanese tourist Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura), he reveals his plan; to create a human centipede by connecting the three captives mouth to anus via the gastric system, giving the trio one digestive tract.
The potential this idea warrants could have pushed the boundaries of horror to new heights (or lows, depending on your disposition). Yet for all its ‘promise’ the end result falls somewhat short. Whilst aspects such as acting and dialogue are limited (almost an afterthought for movies such as this), the film itself feels neutered, as if Six held back, testing the waters if you will. There is depravity abound and the eventual scene in which the front of the centipede feeds the person behind instils a sickening sense of nausea, yet the movie never gets as outrageous as it promises.
For its target audience, there will be disappointment abound. However, beyond its own conceit is a surprisingly well-shot and paced horror film that may lack plot but revels in the nastiness of its concept. The ending too is fittingly bleak and successfully leaves the audience with a sense of being pulled through the wringer.
Just don’t go into it expecting the most disgusting horror film ever made. It isn’t.
Best performance: Dieter Laser as Dr. Heiter.