Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review: The Human Centipede

The Human Centipede
Dir. Tom Six
Year: 2010
Aus Rating: R18+
Running Time: 90mins

By now you have most certainly heard of and know about Tom Six's The Human Centipede. By now you have most certainly made up your mind as to whether you want to see it or not. By now you have most certainly decided, seen or unseen, whether the film is "disgusting", "sickening", "revolting" or whatever other word people have chosen to use to describe this movie in the past. Do I think it's disgusting, sickening or revolting? Yes and no. The acts described within The Human Centipede are enough to put you off food for a moment of time, but it's actually not all that visually confronting. Unfortunately, the real problem with The Human Centipede is that it is just so terminally dull and that is strictly unforgivable.

You want a plot? There really isn't much of one, but if you insist... two American girls get lost in Germany and end up at the house of a mad scientist surgeon who aims to recreate the image of his three pet dogs sniffing each other's butt's by grafting the mouths of human to the anus of another. Three of them in a row, creating a "human centipede". It certainly sounds sickening and there are several scenes that border on obscene in their suggestion, but there's nothing from a purely visually sense that audiences - at least those who are willing to actually sit down and watch a movie with this plot - have not seen before. And in far more detail, too, I might add. Recent local horror film The Loved Ones had far more graphic violence for the world to see.

Alas, the difference between a film such as The Loved Ones and The Human Centipede is not only a director that understands the difference between shock, gore and scares, but also a director that understands how to merge them to create something truly terrifying. Director Six knows how to shock in the most puerile, superficial and obvious ways - "omg the scene where the Asian guy defecates into the mouth of the girl omg totally gross" - but that's all it is. A grotesque act in service of nothing. Salo this most assuredly is not. I can't imagine anyone who seen more than ten of these sort of high-shock horror films being truly shaken by anything on display here.

Even then, I could have been perfectly on board with The Human Centipede as a sort of Grand Guignol of a movie, a horror freak show that you couldn't find anywhere else, but the entire affair is such an appalling one. The actors - if you can call them that, they may as well have been anonymous streetwalkers on the look out for easy cash - are either shrill, stupid, amateurish and with little command of the screen. Usually they're all of those things at once. It's interesting in a way, especially since we've been discussing the franchise so much lately, that on the dawn of Scream 4 we still very much have characters who have, apparently, never seen a scary movie in their lives. Helpful hint: When your car breaks down, don't get out and walk throughout the night through the woods. I don't want to say these characters deserve what happened to them, but I certainly didn't feel anything for them when it did.

Lead actor Dieter Laser at least seems like he knows what movie he is in. He actually reminded me of Max Shreck from Nosferatu in that if he had no prior acting experience I would firmly believe that Tom Six had gone out and found an actually demented surgeon living in the German countryside. Still, he has no idea how to modulate his performance; he's always turned up to eleven. Six's camera is generally uninterested with anything other than screaming at the audience "look at what we've made!" and the film features two of the worst police officers I have seen (both performance and character) since Danny Glover's rehearsal footage somehow ended up in the final cut of Saw.

Tom Six, and I can't confirm this but I do have a sneaking suspicion that it's true, probably thinks long scenes where nothing much happens constitutes "tension". And trust me, there are a lot of scenes where no much seems to happen at all. The shock value found in the gore doesn't equate to scares, either. There isn't a single fright to be found amongst The Human Centipede's brief running time.

I am certain that Tom Six wants audiences to believe there is a reason for The Human Centipede. An "Oh, you just don't get it" type of thing. Similar to Eli Roth's Hostel where the film's defenders are eager to label the film as something something indictment something something America's bad something something today's culture. They have every right to, just as I have every right to dismiss the claims as bogus. Is it the subtitles that gives The Human Centipede this edge? Is it because Six has set the film in Germany, despite it being a Dutch production? I'm sure someone out there has justified this poor excuse for filmmaking in such a way, but I don't buy it for a second. I could try and come up with something equally deep and meaningful to make myself feel better, but I won't because it seems like a mission that will bear little fruit, and why give The Human Centipede more of my brain cells than I already have? The Human Centipede is like a neutered dog with no bite. It may look threatening, but actually delve closer and it's danger is all for show. D-

No comments: