The Human Centipede came onto the horror, nay, the movie scene with a bang. It has the dubious honor of being the movie where three people are connected to each other ass to mouth. Many people went to see it just so they could say that they had seen it. In equal measure, there are people who refuse to watch it because they assume that it can be nothing other than pure cinematic trash. Has anyone ever wondered whether the movie is actually good or not, despite the plot point?
Now, I must be upfront and admit that the idea of people eating feces does not appeal to me, but it also does not immediately turn me off from a movie. The biggest downfall of The Human Centipede is that it is known for the ass to mouth stuff, but what about everything else? What about all of the other pieces that make up the whole? A whole movie that isn't truly terrible. A whole movie that is, dare I say it, good.
Admittedly, I do find quite a bit of humor in this movie. No, not in the Showgirls way; more in the Pink Flamingos way. Tom Six is very away of what kind of film he has made and what kind of story he is asking you to, um, swallow. Sure, this is a level of crazy that is rarely seen done with such sincerity, but it does have that light touch of humor and that is what makes it a legitimate film and not just a gross out one line joke. Well, o.k., The 3 Head Dog is a pretty great joke. You just have to love that Dr. Heiter has a framed picture of his canine pride and joy on his nightstand.
Like any horror movie set in Europe, we have annoying American women behaving like, well, American women. Refusing to learn even one word of the language, they expect people to know English and cater to their pampered American ways. Why else would they think that knocking on the door of the secluded house is a great idea? More than that, to assume that the nice man living there would never dream of hurting them. Nope. His only duty in life is to get these precious girls back on the road safely.
Well, on the other side of this door is Dr.Heiter and the good doctor needs two more people for his very own human centipede. Imagine his luck when two perfect specimens show up on on his doorstep. Could life get any better? Well, if you're living in this pristine, immaculately decorated house with it's own surgery suite for crazy experiments, I think not.
This movie is visually gorgeous. It goes back and forth between warm and cool with the lighting depending upon the overall emotion of the scene. When Dieter is first examining his new specimen, everything is lit like a warm summer's day. As he proclaims, "I did it!", the golden glow of his exuberance is a stark contrast to the terror that the three segments are feeling. Everyone is crying in this moment, but for very different reasons.
Outside of this moment and when Dr. Heiter is very pleased about his creation eating dinner, the rest of the film is very cool and stark. The lighting in this movie kind of functions the same as a Greek choir; it clues you in to how the doctor is feeling and the overall tone of what is about to happen. The attention to detail with the doctor's house, it's art, overall look and feel and the look of the doctor himself is perfection. This movie was done with a lot of love and an eye for beauty. Sure, it's about people sharing one long digestive system, but it's beautiful. It really is a shame that the movie gets overlooked simply because of what people have heard. The set decoration alone is worth a watch.
Quite frankly, I find Dr. Heiter to be strangely sympathetic much the same way that I find Patrick Bateman strangely sympathetic. He may me a madman, but he has outstanding taste, he's brilliant and you cannot deny the man's jawline.
Another thing The Human Centipede has going for it is that it doesn't just have one final girl; it has a three person train of survivors. These poor kids have to walk up a flight of stairs on their knees and they really give their all trying to get out of there. Of course, this does not all go as everyone had planned, but I'm sure they didn't plan on becoming part of a human centipede, either.
As far as needing to check your logic at the door while watching this movie, my biggest issue is with the complete audacity of the experiment at it's most basic. It is just a fact that you can't eat feces and not get violently ill. So, I really don't know how that poor girl in the middle was "fed" and then didn't become sick. You know, when you get food poisoning, 99% of the time it is due to "fecal/oral contact" (i,e, a food preparer not washing their hands properly. You're welcome.) It is at this point that I think it's important to point out that this is not a graphic film. The content matter is certainly unpleasant to think about, but the film itself does not revel in being visually disgusting.
Overall, this is a good movie with an interesting idea, a magnetic villain, true moments of suspense and some really awesome cringe inducing practical effects. Everything that people complain they aren't getting enough of in horror, is in this film. You just have to get past the mouth to ass stuff. You can do it.