Saturday, May 22, 2010
The Human Centipede (First Sequence) ***1/2
Director: Tom Six
Cast: Dieter Laser
Akihiro Kitamura, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie
We have become so used to cheap thrills and sudden scares that the feat achieved by The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is nothing if not remarkable: it will keep you horrified during its entire running time.
Combining B movie elements, a deranged Cronenberg-ian style and unfiltered exploitation techniques, it crafts a story so sick and inhuman that you can't help but wonder how would someone come up with it (it's actually easy to find out and Google might help you find the answer in a second).
The film opens on a German highway where we first meet Dr. Heiter (Laser) as he sits in his luxurious car waiting for something.
Then he spots a truck driver looking for a place to release himself, the doctor smirks, grabs a shot gun and moves towards the unsuspecting man. The scene ends.
From its initial shot the movie sets a Lynchian atmosphere that always keeps us wondering what road it will take and unless you have read the plot synopsis beforehand you really won't know until you see it.
Moments later we see Lindsay (Williams) and Jenny (Yennie), two American tourists, preparing for a night out during in the middle of their European road trip.
They drive through their rental car in the middle of nowhere and of course they get a flat tire, of course they're wearing high heels and don't know how to change a tire and obviously they think that their best way out is to immerse themselves into the forest in the middle of a storm and look for help.
They end up running into Dr. Heiter's house. Once there they find themselves in the middle of a perverse experiment where the sadistic doctor performs surgery on them and a Japanese man named Katsuro (Kitamura) to create something not even Dr. Frankenstein would've imagined.
What follows is an endurance test for the characters and the audience who at every second find themselves trapped into a tragedy of which they too are responsible.
The Human Centipede is an exercise on how far can genre boundaries be pushed and the director makes sure to bend them to his extreme will every time.
Laser gives what's sure to become an iconic performance as the doctor whose Nazi beliefs are as evident as the director's disdain for political correctness.
The way the actor gives into the character is creepy and to a degree admirable as he indulges in all sorts of grossness without the selfconsciousness of usual horror movie villains.
In the extreme lunacy of Dr. Heiter, Laser taps into a horror so primal that not even nightmares can start to explain.
But what remains more horrifying about the film is its lack of obviousness. Most movies of its kind have an agenda of their own; whether to condemn capitalism, media violence or try to understand the dark depths of the human psyche, they all use the genre to make comments about broader subjects.
Therefore, in its use of science, multiculturalism and torture, The Human Centipede has to mean something right?
The truth is that while watching it you might want to see some sort of commentary on WWII, foreign policies, gender inequity and the duality of scientific experimentation, yet the director makes every moment so harrowing that no simple explanation allows us to contextualize and humanize the actions onscreen.
You will leave The Human Centipede trying hard to grasp some sort of justification, to reassure yourself that evil of its kind is only a fantasy, before what you just have seen plagues your darkest nightmares.