Review: The Human Centipede Cannot Be Unseen

Surprisingly witty and definitely repulsive, the buzzed-about flick is nearly impossible to stop talking about, or forget

By Peter Paras Apr 29, 2010 11:35 PMTags
Ashley Williams, Human Centipede2009 sixentertainment

Review in a Hurry: While vacationing in Germany, two American gals discover they're just the right "fit" for a surgeon's most unusual experiment. Surprisingly witty and definitely repulsive, the much buzzed-about Human Centipede will be nearly impossible to stop talking about (or forget) after the credits roll. But will you actually see it? We did—so read on!

The Bigger Picture: Master surgeon specializing in separating conjoined twins, Dr. Heiter mourns the loss of his "three pup dog" and wants a new set of companions. And while Jenny, Lindsay and a dude from Japan might not be canines, by the time the procedure is over they aren't exactly human anymore, either.

What's so disgusting—and fascinating—about Human Centipede is it's a tale about transforming into something else entirely, and not in that generic CG-morphing way.

Once the doctor's vision is finally produced and shown, the result is quite stunning, but not at all gory. More like some fully realized art exhibition with the most uncanny eye candy. So the concept (we won't get any deeper here) may be gross, but you can't look away.

Dutch director Tom Six claims all the icky details of his surgical nightmare are "100 percent medically accurate." For many, this will be just too disturbing to sit through. But stick with it, Six has crafted his picture that will remind genre fans of a young David Cronenberg, circa Dead Ringers. He may be interested in perverting the flesh—and making sure his audience feels it—but it never feels Saw-like, never exploitive.

Much of the credit can go to lanky, German-born actor Dieter Laser, who plays Dr. Heiter. Laser can be terrifying, but most of the time he's hilarious. One scene has Dr. Heiter training his new pets to fetch the paper. Their refusal to obey is understandable, but Heiter's methods of control turns comedic as he goads one of them to bite his fascist-style footwear. And he gets downright gleeful when his master creation, the human centipede, starts to actually...move.

Ah, we've said too much...

The 180—a Second Opinion: Gorehounds will feel cheated. For a film that many think is even too shocking to talk about, there's very little of the actual procedure onscreen. Director Six knows it's way worse to make viewers imagine it but some might want more bloody details.

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