Monday, April 26, 2010

Review - The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

Two American girls while traveling through Germany, breakdown in a secluded rural area. Without any service to call for help, the girls search through the wooded countryside for any sign of life. Unbeknownst to the American girls, they find a solitary house in which a retired surgeon who specialized in separating Siamese twins lives. The girls quickly find themselves captured by the mad doctor who will soon make them part of his latest creation, a human centipede.

Not always, but a majority of the time, the best horror movies push the boundaries of what can be done on film. They provide shock value and dare the viewer to endure what is unfolding. Testing the limits if you will. "The Human Centipede (First Sequence)" not only pushes the boundaries, it sews them together, feeds them and than jumps right over them.

The anything but politically correct horror directed by Tom Six, is one of the most disgusting and controversial concepts I have ever heard or seen. The concept alone had me, a huge horror buff who will watch all sorts of grotesque and bizarre, unsure if I was willing to go see the film. Thankfully, I did. "The Human Centipede (First Sequence)" has all the right components. It is very clever, insanely engaging, gut wrenching, laugh out loud hysterical and undoubtedly emotional. It is a one of kind cinema going experience that must be endured with a crowd.

Going into the shock value horror, I was skeptical and anxious on exactly how director Tom Six would approach the stomach turning concept. Luckily, right off the bat, the viewer is reassured with a comical tone. Six however, does retain a substantial amount of tension that builds and builds throughout the 90 minute horrifying story. "The Human Centipede" is very much a straight forward horror movie, that said, Tom Six wisely made the villain and the rest of the components to the undesirable topic feel very tongue and cheek.

A lynchpin for any great horror movie is the villain and here in 'First Sequence,' lies the best villain I've seen in years. Dr. Heiter, played by the instantly addicting German actor Dieter Laser, is phenomenal. Laser's performance bars no comparison, however his character becomes as iconic, as any horror legend from our past. Yes, he's that good. Just absolutely remarkable.

Settings are always important in horror movies and "The Human Centipede" houses one inviting central location, Dr. Heiter's home. The secluded German cottage made for perfect interior and exterior visuals. Cinematographer Goof de Koning does a flawless job of making the exterior of the house and its surroundings seem so common, while the interior is oppositely eerie and daunting. His use of reoccurring shots also helped to evoke a subdued feeling of capture and torment.

The three actors that make up the Human Centipede are also very good in their roles. Particularly Akihiro Kitamura and Ashley C. Williams. The lot of them do a mesmerizing job of conveying dire emotion throughout the film. Easily becoming attached to their plight, the viewer painfully goes through the emotional spectrum with the trio. Kitamura represents the head of the centipede and is the only actor with vocal ability for a substantial portion of the film, while Williams and Ashlynn Yennie and are stuck relying purely on physical acting. Williams and Yennie deserve a ton of credit for the desperation and true terror they convey. You would never fathom so much emotion could be displayed with 75% of a person's face submersed in another person's ass.

That is what makes "The Human Centipede" so damn good. It is outright a disgusting concept, but it surprisingly works extremely well. It tests the viewers fortitude and ability to endure such a risque topic, while it treats you with solid scares and outstanding performances. An added bonus is the constant onslaught of laughter that comes with the experience. The laughter helps to lessen the pain of seeing three human beings being connected ass to mouth and put through revolting and inhumane acts. Quite honestly, in comparison to other torture horror films like Hostel or Saw, "The Human Centipede" is less traumatic, far more surreal and it is a new favorite of mine.