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Ben Austwick [Film Festival 08.31.09] Netherlands movie review horror comedy

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Year: 2009
Directors: Tom Six
Writers: Tom Six
IMDB: link
Trailer: N/A
Gallery: link
Review by: Ben Austwick
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

The Human Centipede – when you read the title you're know you're in for something strange and disgusting, especially on learning that the centipede in question is a chain of humans sewn together mouth to anus in a surgical procedure. The idea is original and nasty enough to be horror in its own right - which is lucky as The Human Centipede never does much more than expand on its premise, one which is sick and twisted enough to carry the film, helped along by some great performances.


Things start pretty badly as two American tourists, Lindsey and Jenny (played by Ashley Williams and Ashlynn Yennie respectively), find themselves stranded in a remote part of Germany where, unsurprisingly, there is no mobile phone signal. They walk to the house of the creepy and uptight Dr Heiter (played with wry hamminess by Dieter Laser), a retired leader in the field of cojoined twin surgery who now wants to try a twisted, reverse version of his speciality and is on the hunt for victims. This disappointingly by-wrote set up, echoed later in the film in a pointless hide-and-chase scene that distracts from rather than adds to the real horror at The Human Centipede's core, and the averagely handled police intervention that brings the film to a head, point to a lack of ideas beyond the central subject matter.

The sometimes plodding nature of the film is rescued by a constant string of jokes, mainly through the comedy of Dieter Laser's performance and that of Akihiro Kitamura, Dr Heiter's third unfortunate victim, who makes up the “head” of the human centipede. Both play off each other brilliantly, Dr Heiter preening and even kissing himself in a mirror while Kitamura screams with anger at the "crazy German" tormenting him. Kitamura's over-the-top acting provides some real laughs, but is underpinned by warmth for his character as he suffers through a gamut of emotions, his initial rage giving way to the dehumanisation of being turned into a weird parody of an insect.

The body horror takes second seat to comedy throughout, but behind the laughs this is a dark film that while never exploring the human-technology interface of obvious influence David Cronenberg dwells extensively on the degradation, humiliation and pain of Dr Dieter's victims. The inevitable consequence of sewing people mouth-to-anus to form one long, complete digestive tract is realised in a sequence that invokes disgust and sympathy more than laughter. The trauma of the surgery is ever present and the sheer despair of their predicament is excruciating. While The Human Centipede only has its own title to work with, it explores the concept thoroughly with both humour and horror, and that is really quite enough.

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punch drunk love (5 years ago) Reply

You misspelled Japanese actor's last name!
His name is Akihiro Kitamura.
Yes his performance is superb in this film.
I saw the film at this year's frightfest
and it was absolutely incredible!!
Very very original horror film!!!!!!

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Jonas (5 years ago) Reply

Is this the first movie of several SHORTS films or a full feature length film?

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quietearth (5 years ago) Reply

This is a feature length film with a sequel to come..

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Ben Austwick (5 years ago) Reply

Thanks for the correction Punch Drunk Love, it's been changed.

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clivex (5 years ago) Reply

"This disappointingly by-wrote set up" should be "This disappointingly by-rote set up..."

No W...

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SeeingI (5 years ago) Reply

No, I think he means "a dissapointingly Bayreuth set-up." Some people just can't appreciate Gesamtkunstwerk.

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skweemish (5 years ago) Reply

Hmmmm... I think, on reflection, I'd least like to be the one in the middle.

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THeDaveL (4 years ago) Reply

That is one love train that I'd much rather be the engine than the caboose.

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Ins (4 years ago) Reply

What a disgrace to my country.

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Anonymous (4 years ago) Reply

I'm sorry, but having just seen the trailer. I can honestly say, i am disgusted. Yes, by the fact it's motuh-to-anus. But also because The director/writers acctually THOUGHT this up. And then acted this out, I don't think they realise there ARE lunatics out there who WOULD be provoked by this movie. Just the other day two kids thought of torture related to SAW. I think this is Sick. And I don't care if it's a horror film. Its sick to think this entertains people. Because seriously, A mentally disturbed person is fully capable of thinking up something like this and putting it to practice. I also think it was wrong to make him German. And to the absolute idiot that enjoyed this film. Fucking sort your head out :/ I am disgusted. Those that find entertainment in this film, are fucked in the head. and otherwise.

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kenzier (4 years ago) Reply

I think this looks awesome. and even though it's discusting, people like to watch horrible things. so kudos to the guy that made this.

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Anonymous (4 years ago) Reply

I'm sorry I have to be the downer here. This movie was retarded. I love a good horror movie like the rest of us but god damn. When a horror movie has only shock value to fall back on and no story at all then your just watching a snuff film. This "original" movie (and I use that term loosely.) has got to be one of the worst films I've ever seen. I usually try to find the best in indie movie. You know anything even if it's just the soundtrack but trying to find something good about this movie is like trying find something good about a movie with 3 people sewn together through ass to mouth. I was trying to think of another good analogy but really that's the worst thing there is. There was nothing funny about this movie at all. Don't find the humor in this at all. It was trash and whomever finds this movie incredible or even "not bad" needs to keep thatvopion to themselves because you show signs of a sociopath. Sorry fellows. Feel free to go off on me

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rbk (4 years ago) Reply

Actually, I'm with Anonymous here. Nasty premise but that's all it's got. I was actually pretty bored - bad acting, non-existent script. Just a different spin on the torture-porn shit...I thought it was a ridiculous waste of time.

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ohdeargodmyasshurtsjustfromwatching (3 years ago) Reply

Just caught this "film" on netflix- thank god its not my account and I didn't pay one red cent for it otherwise I would be tempted to sew my own mouth to my ass in a slow and painful form of suicide because of how depressed I am that I can never get back those 91 minutes of my life! I'd rather watch a movie titled "Titanic II" or a snow
static, or the monthly required safety alert tone! etc.. - horrible acting / terribly stereotypical / borders on being anti-German propaganda / nothing other than grotesque shock value. I give "The Human centipede .002 stars out of ten.


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