The Human Centipede (2009)
Director: Tom Six
Writer: Tom Six
Cinematographer: Good de Koning
by Jon Cvack
I was expecting some gratuitous slaughter-porn film that would be impossible to watch. For any fans of the Saw series this movie's gore pales in comparison. It’s disturbing. It digs deep into your veins and makes you so uncomfortable and disgusted that by the end that you’re excited to have experienced such a reaction by a film of all things. It’s a horror film for lovers of horror films, especially those who haven’t been moved in quite sometime with the recent onslaught of gore-porn films.
The reason it works is because of its reputation. We all know what we’re going to see., and that brews and burrows and creates one of the most suspenseful first halves to a movie I’ve seen in a long time. Dieter Laser who plays Dr. Heiter is one of the greatest horror villains of all time. From the moment you see the man you are on edge. His house is barren. It looks sterile and fake. His complete detachment from any empathy or guilt is phenomenal. We know what he has done, we know what he’s about to do, and when he finally demonstrated his plan by putting up the frighteningly simplistic slides on the wall my stomach curled and I realized I was not at all watching some shitty B-movie, but a very deliberate, highly stylized, unique and well executed horror film.
It’s all about expectation. We expect the victims to soon be attached and we wonder how the food trail will work. We expect someone to go free and what will happen when caught. All of these expectations are against the backdrop of knowing what the film is about and creating a wildly effective story. Because this film wouldn’t work without it. If we didn’t know what the Human Centipede was about - though I’m sure our imaginations could put it together from the title alone - the movie just wouldn’t work as well. It’d seem like a cheap slasher film, abiding by all the generic rules. This is a film that works in the age of rapid word of mouth.
I don’t know too many people that have seen this film. What’s strange is I know they’ve seen a lot or many of the gore-porn films - Saw, Hostel, and so on - films that make this movie look extremely tame by comparison. Somehow this movie's reputation has precluded any interest from even the biggest horror fans. It’s as though they are taking what they’ve seen in the gorno genre and expecting an even more shocking degree of carnage. Spoiler: it just doesn’t exist. It’s gross, it’s disturbing, but it’s no worse. I watched this movie at 11pm all alone. I was nervous. I was waiting to feel nauseous. I was a bit nervous, even. I was about to go on this ride and had no idea what I would see or how I’d be affected. My expectations created one of the most disgusting movie experiences of my entire life before I even saw one minute of the story. And most people feel a similar way. It’s for that exact reason that it’s so effective. I was scared before I even saw anything scary. This was a wild film to ride through.
I recommend watching it alone. Seriously. You can do it.
BELOW: (There is no blood or gore in this scene) Dr. Heiter gives an overview of the operation. What makes it so effective is how simplistic the explanation is. However, if you're going to watch this film, skip this scene.
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