All you have to do is read the plot of The Human Centipede to know whether or not this film is for you. The Human Centipede (First Sequence) involves a crazed German surgeon who kidnaps three unsuspecting tourists and surgically attaches them from mouth to anus to form a….. human centipede.

If the thought of this made you throw up in your mouth (even just a little) or got your gag reflex going, you can stop reading right here, because this film is not for you. On the other hand, if you are mildly intrigued or, dare I say, enthusiastic about seeing this film, follow me as I discuss this film in more detail.

The Human Centipede was written and directed by Dutch filmmaker Tom Six, with Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, and Akihiro Kitamura playing the unsuspecting victims, and Dieter Laser starring as the unforgettable Dr. Heiter.

In the film, Dr. Heiter is a famous German surgeon, known for his work in splitting conjoined twins. We learn early on, however, that Dr. Heiter’s real interest is in fusing three people into a single centipede-like creation. The film relies heavily on the fact that the idea is so disturbing that you will be sickened by seeing the human centipede, regardless of what is shown.  The problem with this is that if you are aware of the plot and are still watching the movie, chances are that the idea itself isn’t disturbing enough to sicken you. As disgusting as the idea may sound, we see very little of the surgery and recovery of the people fused into this centipede. There is actually very little gore throughout the movie, and while I don’t feel there was the need to go overboard, this may not be gross enough to satisfy everyone interested in this movie.

When we finally see the three victims attached together, their faces and bottoms are partially covered up with gauze, so we are unable to see exactly what was stitched together. This is a film that should rely heavily on making you believe that what you are seeing is real and, unfortunately, not enough is shown to make me forget that I’m watching a movie. I really needed to see a bit more time spent on the process of Dr. Heiter putting the centipede together and on the post-surgery recovery. In all honesty, I would place this issue more on budgetary constraints, but it needs to be noted regardless.

It has been some time since we’ve seen an iconic horror villain and Laser’s performance instantly created an iconic character in Dr. Heiter. The film’s main character and focus is Dr. Heiter, and Laser does a wonderful job of holding the film together and keeping you interested in the both the character and the film.

While I did enjoy the film, at the same time I was disappointed because somewhere in there was the potential for this being a Cronenberg-esque masterpiece. Beyond the shock factor of the idea of a human centipede, which is used to sell the film, there are some really great scenes that have nothing to do with the human centipede. One in particular was an exchange later in the film between Akihiro Kitamura and Dieter Laser, which really takes this from a shock film to something that is much deeper. You also see Dr. Heiter transform over the course of the movie (more mentally, than physically), from a calm and collected surgeon with a plan, to something that more closely resembles the creature he is trying to create.

There are a couple scenes in this film that dragged on too long, such as a failed escape towards the beginning. There is also the previously mentioned lack of detail in the actual surgery and recovery, which I think was essential to making the audience feel for the characters and believe what they were seeing was real. If this movie had a slightly bigger budget and its script tightened up a bit, I think this would have been a fantastic horror film.

By the end of The Human Centipede, we are left with a good, but not great film. With that being said, though, this isn’t a film that you’re likely to forget and it’s refreshing to see a new horror film that isn’t a hastily thrown together remake or slasher film. If you are looking for a unique horror film and aren’t put off by the plot, The Human Centipede may be well worth your time.

3/5 Stars

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