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Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Human Centipede (2009)

Tired of re-makes and sequels? Pained by the thought of conveyer-belt horror being churned out, not just Hollywood, but by Indie production companies and faux-underground auteurs that seem to think that fake-snuff movies are the future for the genre? You certainly aren’t alone, mio amico. When news of Tom Six’ debut The Human Centipede hit the World Wide Web, my interest was instantly raised; what was a Human Centipede? How do you make one? Are they safe? Can I have one? After seeing the trailer for the film, I instantly decided that having one would be wrong and somewhat amoral, but I did want to see the film still– as nasty and twisted as it appeared to be!

Two annoying American tourists, Lindsey and Ashley, breakdown in the middle of some woodland while looking for a club called ‘Bunker’. They are accosted by some German perv who propositions them, but refuses to lend a helping hand in fixing their flat tire. Too add to the cliché, they decide to wonder off into the woods in order to find help… or a road. What they find is a nice secluded house of the mad Doctor Heiter, who specializes in separating Siamese twins; only he's shifted focus from separation to attachment. We can see from a photo that he has successfully made a Dog Centipede and now aims to do the same with these American girls. All he has to do is find a suitable third part, which he does in a Japanese touris, Katsura.

Taking the most clichéd of horror clichés, Tom Six manages to avoid boredom and tedium by creating a great air of unease and mystery from the off-set. There’s also a great sense of dark humor powering the film that is evident from the start; what with the mad doctor trapping bait by shooting a trucker with a dart gun while he takes a roadside dump. When we first meet our American tourists, they come across as air-headed bimbo’s whom you secretly wish bad things upon, which is where the dark humor strikes once again, as bad things do happen to these poor girls; very bad things.

This is the beauty within the grime; the set up is so familiar that you’ve already figured out what the character will do next in vein attempts to escape; but much like the doomed protagonists, Director Tom Six is playing with us as the villainous doctor is his captives. They aren’t going to escape and neither are we – the horror will play out, and we will watch and endure it. The idea of the human centipede is revolting enough, but when the doctor begins to describe how he will achieve his goals, the stomach will start to feel queasy. Then the harsh realities of what would occur, in such a situation as this, start to arrive as the film progresses and it isn’t pretty; but then again when has the consumption of excretion ever been portrayed as pleasant? Let alone scar tissue exposed to such bodily discharge – revolting stuff indeed. Yet for all the revulsion the film remains gripping and engrossing.

Taking our fear of medical procedures to new sickening heights, The Human Centipede is a film that will be required viewing for genre fans whom believe they have 'seen it all'. The film itself is like an extended version of a Tales From The Crypt episode, so some viewers may loose interest after the first hour. Which is understandable, as it's a film with little to say and even little less to show after it's initial premise, we get to see the Centipede within the first half hour of the film, once seen the gimmick will soon wear-off and the story really has nowhere to go after that. Luckily, Deiter Laser gives a hugely enjoyable performance as the demented Dr. Heiter. Given that he's in the majority of the films run-time, had the role been cast to a lesser actor the film wouldn't be half as enjoyable and watchable as it is.

Tom Six is due to start production on the films sequel, which will apparently make this outing look like a child's movie, as long as he has more to say in this outing I can't see why the sequel can't better the original,. outside of it's great premise, lead performance and confident direction, The Human Centipede does begin to outstay it's welcome, even at ninety minutes. I wouldn't call the film a disappointment in the least, it's a solid little entry into a new decade of horror; but it's a film that was in need of a much needed kick in the ass in terms of pacing, Six goes hell for leather for forty minutes then falls into lackluster for the next half hour before picking back up the pace in the films admittedly gripping climax.

Highly recommended indeed, just don't expect to have your world moved, there's a talented man waiting to bloom; if this film hints at anything, it's that of a brave new voice in the horror community. One that has been brought up on Cronenberg movies, while having a love for the Japanese horror explosion of the late 90's/ early noughties – Takeshi Miike in particular – and is fully aware of the fear we have of traveling abroad.

Theatrical Trailer:

1 comment:

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