Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Human Centipede: Meh.

I approached The Human Centipede with a kind of dread similar to Titanic. You're facing something inevitable and sitting through the first VHS is fun yet, agonizing because you know what will happen. In Titanic this moment is when the ship hits the iceberg. In The Human Centipede this moment is when the Japanese man has to take a poop. The idea of eating poop has never been fun for me (see Salo for more information), but one has to wonder, what kind of person am I for willingly sitting through this? Just a curious one I think.

I'm sure you've heard the plot by now. Crazy German surgeon guy deeply desires to create the triple siamese twin effect- or "the human centipede". He kidnaps 2 American girls and one Japanese man and creates his masterpiece. Working on a seemingly endless batch of anesthesia, he connects a mouth to anus, anus to mouth and then basks in it's glory.

I'll start off by saying that the two actresses in this, were pretty atrocious. I would rather sit through the bad writing and emo-like tones of the new Nightmare on Elm Street kids than listen to these two. Everything they said sounded so unnatural, possibly due to bad writing--but it was honestly the most distracting thing I've ever seen. I was glad when their mouths finally got sewn to a butt so they would shut up. Smart move on the director's part I think.

Now for the moment you've all been waiting for--shock value! Honestly, I've seen worse. Sure you get a few moments of fleeting nausea but the big pay off falls flat. The goriest parts are the brief clips of the surgery, and a nice little pus segment. It felt more like I was watching people who just had their heads tied to someone's butt instead of being surgically put there--ya dig? It didn't feel or look very real to me--except when they had to climb the stairs. That part I think was strangely one of the most difficult to watch scenes out of the whole thing. And I'm sorry if I just didn't understand how the surgery worked but man, was I lost. It's way more complicated than I thought and if they say it's 100% surgically accurate then I guess we have to believe them but...I don't believe them!

Here's my biggest problem with this flicka-roo. It verges on the boring side and the gore isn't enough to make up for it. By the time we see the human centipede in action, the film is only halfway done. What are we supposed to do now? Oh right, watch the crazy German guy treat them like a pet and see how they painfully walk around...20 times. I'm not sure why this happens--not enough build up? An exhaustion of some absolutely insane ideas? A combination of several factors I'm sure, but for the most part I felt like I wasn't getting enough of a pay off for wanting to watch this film. I wasn't really shocked, I was only a little grossed out, and I wasn't really wowed by anything in particular. So what's the big deal?

Maybe I've finally become desensitized to horrible acts of violence and gore on screen. Perhaps many of you will prove me wrong in my thinking--but I'm telling you, I wasn't that impressed. Now if the goal of this film merely was for shock value, I think it definitely fell flat. If it was for something bigger, perhaps I missed it. There is something interesting to be seen in the way that the crazy doctor picks his subjects. Dismissing the white truck driver for not matching and then selecting instead, a Japanese man. The way that there always seems to be a miscommunication of some sort, most obviously with the language barriers. And I think something can be said for what the character's do not know-- in terms of what another character is saying. The Japanese man's speech, the creepy German guy in the car are all things that only one character knew about, the character who was doing the speaking. It's an interesting concept, but one that may not be explored enough, or even one that was crushed beneath the promised shock and gore that unfortunately I felt we did not entirely receive.

Oh and by the way, what's the big deal about a flat tire? I drove on one for a whole day once without knowing and I got along just fine. Got yelled at by the AAA guy and felt like an idiot, but at LEAST I didn't get sewn to someone's ass.

Overall check this out--even if you aren't the biggest fan of these types of movies. It's not as bad as you may think- and you may get something out of it that I missed and you HAVE to tell me what it is.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Interesting. The way they have marketed this thing certainly leads me to believe that its chock full o' shock value. Disppointing that it may never fully deliver on that front. I've heard that it really does fail to 'go all the way' and cuts away at time during 'crucial' scenes.

But my morbid curiousity has me showing up for a midnight screening in Dallas this weekend. Looking forward to it.

B-Sol said...

"Oh and by the way, what's the big deal about a flat tire? I drove on one for a whole day once without knowing and I got along just fine. Got yelled at by the AAA guy and felt like an idiot, but at LEAST I didn't get sewn to someone's ass."

Your reviews never fail to literally having me LOLing, and this one was no different.

I kinda dug the movie, and did find it suitably shocking/bleak. The subject matter is pretty horrific, even if they don't zoom in to show a mouth sewn onto an anus, the effect was still pretty nauseating and depressing to me. But mileage may vary, and I admit I try desperately to hang on to my capacity to be shocked, since I think that's the key to enjoying many horror films. I mean, I can still put myself into the mindset to be shocked by the concept of Frankenstein if need be (which is a pretty friggin' revolting concept if you *really* contemplate it).

The girls are terrible--and thank you incidentally for pointing out the annoying emo-ness of the new Elm Street kids. Once Bizarro Robert Pattinson shows up with his Joy Division T-Shirt on, I almost let out an audible moan.

But yeah, Dieter Laser is awesome as the mad doctor. And the Japanese guy almost stole the movie--not too hard when the other two supporting players have their mouths sewn shut though...

100& medically accurate? Suuuuure. And Texas Chainsaw Massacre was based on an actual case ;-)

Franco Macabro said...

Im curious for this movie, simply because of its premise, but Ive no idea what to expect. It feels like the ideas are too simple. A doctor that wants to surgically unite three people..fine, once the doctor does it...what then?

Sounds to me by what I read in your review that the movie needed a little more complexity to it.

the jaded viewer said...

I hear ya Andre. Check out my review (http://jadedviewer.blogspot.com/2010/05/human-centipede-review.html)

Its built up to say "I'm shocking, watch me!" and instead its Rated R tolerable.

But like B-Sol said, it was diggable. Seeing this visual WTF onscreen is pure awesomeness (i mean you are seeing a human medical freakshow) and you can't help but laugh, feel sick and then laugh some more.

Thats the good stuff about the movie. They never make movies about crazy freaks....sorry freak Americans.

Dieter is awesome as the doc and they should have went into why he wanted to make medical monsters.

Maybe we'll see why in the sequel.

Andre Dumas said...

I read your review Jaded before I saw the movie I think, and I was relieved that I agreed with you upon the films completion. Sure there were definitely some ridiculously atrocious things happening, but it could have been a bit more atrocious. Although if he's telling the truth, and this first sequence was only to prepare us for the full sequence then I don't know. I'm both very nervous and excited to find out how far it will really go.

deaner said...

I think the idea of the movie is much more creepy than the movie itself. Really it didn't go far enough - I was kind of interested in the actual science of how this would work, but it didn't really explain it.

Gory said...

I just saw it last night and I have to agree with you. Although I can't help but wonder if part of it is due to the advertising of it. Maybe we all just assumed it was going to be something more. Not sure. The reactions from people there were pretty straight across the board. The non-horror people thought it was messed up beyond belief. The horror peepes thought it was ok to meh. Like you, I think I've seen so many really messed up movies that this was not really close in that department. I think it would have worked better as a short film. Or maybe as part of an anthology.

It's not a bad film. In fact, I think Jaded brings up some really good points in his review. Just not the experience I thought it was going to be. Not that I needed it to be overly graphic or anything. Just wanted something more than I got.

Cinema Suicide said...

I feel like I must be the only guy on the horror web who is affected by tone and theme these days. Seems like all the negative criticism of this movie from the horror reviewers stem from a relative lack of splashy gore and explicit torture but the mere suggestion of being kidnapped and given no choice but to shit in or eat the shit of another person is just grotesque and far more intense to me than watching someone's limbs amputated with a chainsaw.

Maybe it had a lot to do with my complete lack of interest in the movie when it started popping up on festivals. I only got interested lately when the hype started to build. Or maybe I'm just a gigantic pussy and it's easy to freak me out, but the stock violence and mutilation of any given horror movie is the sort of thing that leaves me completely unmoved these days and a genuinely repulsive idea portrayed with the appropriate amount of pantomime is the kind of thing that can get under my skin. I don't need to see it with my own eyes when my mind is given enough material to freak itself out.

Andre Dumas said...

Bryan-it's funny because after reading your comment I went back and read my review and thought hmmm it does kind of seem like I'm this crazy gore obsessed horror fan. But the thing is, I'm not! I hate "torture porn" type movies and despise any extraneous gore used for the sole purpose of grossing someone out. Gore is never a factor in my ability to like a horror film.

The thing with the Human Centipede and my reaction to it, is that I didn't feel like I got anything great out of it. Nothing wowed me--and I mean that overall--not in the gore department. My problem was just that it seemed like it was marketed as the number one gross out film of the year that would really push the limit and I didn't get that out of it. Nor did I feel like it was that great of a film? However, I did think the ending was very disheartening and it made me agonize over what she must feel like in that position, but I wasn't left agonizing over it long after.

I guess when it comes down to it, I really didn't love this as much as I've heard others exclaim. I was hoping for something bigger not in gore but in meaning and it just didn't translate to me. I may need a second watch to verify but those are my feelings and I'll stand by it. And you're not a p-word...I cringed plenty of times especially during the climbing of the stairs...gah.

Evil Dave said...

When I first heard of this movie I thought Nope. This has nothing of interest to offer me. I like atmosphere in my horror, no obvious attempts to shock people. It seems from most reviews that it is derivative and lack luster. I can't get past the insanity of the premise. I'm simply not interested.

Strangely, if made 25 to 30 years ago I would so love a film like this. Why? I think for the camp factor. You know the 80s approach to horror would have nailed a picture like this. Imagine the cheap sets, the overacting, the ridiculous amounts of gore, the peculiar batman angles, the gratuitous nudity. Also, an 80s film would have followed through. Imagine the Human Centipede rampaging through the streets of Hollywood or some other city.

It aims at being a cult film, which in itself ironically dooms it. True cult films usually want to be mainstream, but fall short.

This is not to say horror cannot be made these days. It can. Saw has done fairly well as a franchise (though I'm nor fan myself) and REC is a work of genius.

I think some things are just too contrived or manufactured to hold any artistic value for me. I want Poe and they give me a watered down Stephen King.

Thomas Duke said...

I'm working on my own Asylum-esque ripoff of the movie: PANDA CENTIPEDE! No actual pandas (that might make people sad), so, instead... MIDGETS IN PANDA SUITS! The kids will love it.

I mostly agree with you about the movie. I liked the lack of gore, but the problem is is that there's little else going on. It feels like a short film padded out. It may have worked as a gory/disgusting detailed process, but stripped down, it comes across as a mad doctor going "Well, built a human centipede, although I'm not sure why. I guess I'll hang out with it for awhile."

My word verification is "Warsaw". That must be the most obtuse Polish joke in existence.