I’ve watched movies about rape. I’ve seen some of the worst and most vile gore to be placed on screen. I’ve sat through Rob Schneider comedies. Never before have I felt so dirty and filthy after watching a movie than I did after watching The Human Centipede. It had nothing to do with the visuals or gore (to be frank, I found it to be quite tame). The premise is what sickened me.
I use the term premise loosely, as writer/director Tom Six barely manages to deliver a story. All we get are two ditsy girls, Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) whose car breaks down, they find a house nearby, are invited in, turns out the owner is a mad scientist named Doctor Heiter (Dieter Laser) who used to separate conjoined twins and is now using that skill to make a human centipede. Along with another captured victim, Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura), he combines the three of them together by stitching Lindsay’s mouth to Katsuro’s rear end and stitching Jenny’s mouth to Lindsay’s rear end. They now have one, combined digestive system. When Katsuro needs to dispose, it will go through Lindsay’s digestive system, she’ll dispose of it and it’ll go through Jenny’s digestive system and she’ll dispose of it. As the title entails, they’re a human centipede.
There’s no reason behind Doctor Heiter’s methods. He simply gets off on combining three human beings into one, combined digestive system. There’s no rhyme or reason to his actions (or Laser’s acting, for that matter). The term ‘torture porn’ has been tossed around a lot lately to describe the current trend of horror movies. I can safely say that The Human Centipede deserves the term. It is nothing more than ninety minutes of unexplained and depraving torture upon innocent people. There’s no rationale for it. It makes Saw and Hostel look like Sesame Street.
As opposed to trying to scare the audience (which is the basic idea behind a horror movie), Tom Six sets out to gross them out instead. If any scenes were meant to be terrifying (such as when Doctor Heiter is chasing and escaped Lindsay), they failed. Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie give us no reason to care for them. They spend the first half of the film (pre-centipede) whining and complaining about being lost. There’s no character development, or much of a character at all. They’d be more suited as airheads in a slasher flick.
The other victim, Katsuro, played by Akihiro Kitamura, isn’t much better. He spends a chunk of the movie yelling “Untie me!” and the other half yelling “We don’t deserve this!” When he’s not doing that, he’s being an idiot. Before the operation, Doctor Heiter explains to his patients the procedure and how they’ll operate after the surgery. Despite knowing this, he still eats when fed to, then apologizes to Lindsay and Jenny after he’s done passing it through his system. Instead of apologizing, he should have just not eaten. He knows how it’s going to work out, constantly screams that he won’t stand for this (which is ironic considering that, after the surgery, he legitimately can’t stand), begs to die and defies Heiter’s demands. Yet he still willingly eats. He comes off as a prick, not a victim you can care about.
The biggest reason why The Human Centipede isn’t chilling is because of Dieter Laser. As Doctor Heiter, he’s the farthest thing from terrifying. Unlike most actors who play villains, he doesn’t send chills down your spine or make your blood curl. All he does is calmly talk half the time, then randomly yell the other half. He orders the three around as if they were a dog (which is weird considering they’re supposed to be a centipede), but doesn’t add any emotion to it. He isn’t acting, he’s simply talking.
Tom Six didn’t set out to make a movie. He set out to make an elaborate fetish porn. There’s no direction here, just nauseating procedures. There are no redeemable qualities about The Human Centipede, nor is there anything remotely scary. The only thing scary is the hypothesis that this can garner a cult following, leading to more films being made by Tom Six.