Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Directed by Tom Six.
Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie ) and Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams), two friends from America on a European vacation in Germany, seek help in the middle of the night because their car breaks down as a result of a flat tire. They stroll into the woods where they notice an isolated villa in the distance. Little do they know that a sadistic ex-surgeon, Dr. Josef Heiter (Dieter Laser), resides. Upon arriving to his home, they don’t even realize that he’s behaving suspiciously cold and shady toward them, so they stupidly believe that he’ll actually call for assistance so that they could get back on the road again. He gives them each a glass of water which puts them to sleep and, soon enough, they wake up strapped to a bed in his basement. Another beds-strapped victim, Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura), a young Japanese man who doesn’t speak a word of English, can be found near them. Dr. Heiter explains to them in excruciating detail how he’s about to connect all three of them together via their gastric system to form the very first human centipede---he’s already made a dog centipede which he buried in his backyard. That explanatory scene is actually the most frightening one because it introduces very disgusting procedures that no sane human being would even want to imagine. Katsuro desperately tries, but fails to escape before the doctor re-captures him. Any intelligence audience member would already know by then whom among the victims will be the middle part of the centipede. Writer/director Tom Six decides not to include scenes which show the doctor actually connecting them together and, instead, just shows the initial part of the surgery which involves removing the knee cap. The rest of the film delves into how the doctor trains his new centipede how to feed itself and, eventually, how to walk. Those scenes come across as darkly comical and just plain disgusting. You’ll find a modicum of suspense as the centipede tries to escape and goes through a cat-and-mouse chase with the doctor, but it’s difficult to care about the centipede’s demise to begin with because the three victims have virtually zero backstory and seem dimwitted more often than not. Dieter Laser is very well-cast, though, as Dr. Heiter, because he looks very creepy, and, moreover, it’s a guilty pleasure to watch him give such a convincingly deranged performance that makes his sadistic role quite memorable. At a running time of 1 hour and 30 minutes, The Human Centipede manages to be disgusting and unnerving on a visceral level despite diminishing imagination and not nearly enough surprises. Dr. Josef Heiter is the new Hannibal Lecter.
Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by IFC Films.
Opens at the IFC Center.

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