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With: Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, Akihiro Kitamura, Andreas Leupold, Peter Blankenstein
Written by: Tom Six
Directed by: Tom Six
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: English, German, Japanese, with English subtitles
Running Time: 90
Date: 08/30/2009

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2010)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

The Stench Connection

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Written and directed by Tom Six, The Human Centipede is not a movie that anyone can easily recommend or not recommend. The key to this movie is: do you dare to see it? It reminded me of something like Pink Flamingos (in more ways that one). It's a button-pusher. It lets you know what you're in for, and it's up to you if you want to test your ability to sit through it.

The trailer gives away much of the plot, and the beginning is almost ludicrously familiar. Two American girls are vacationing in Germany. They decide to go to a party and get lost. They not only get lost, but they get lost deep in the woods. They get a flat tire, and it starts raining. They tramp through the forest in their high heels and with their runny mascara until they find a house ("Thank God!"). But unfortunately, the man who lives in that house is a psychotic surgeon who has a sinister plan. He thinks he knows how to link three humans together, on hands and knees, and connected through a single digestive tract that runs from mouth to anus, mouth to anus, mouth to anus. The three victims will be sewn together like this.

There are escape attempts and whatnot, and then it's a matter of whether or not the doctor will actually complete his terrible plan. What's a bit disappointing is that, after laying out this disgusting idea, Six doesn't really take it very far. He doesn't exactly demonstrate how the creature's system works, even though he begins to here and there. Moreover, underneath its centipede idea, the movie more or less plays out like any old "torture porn" movie, a la Hostel and its ilk.

The Human Centipede gets some extra mileage from the surprise inclusion of a Japanese-speaking tourist to the mix. This adds a new language barrier, as well as a cultural one, although it seems as if the character is based more in movie mythology than anything realistic. (Actor Akihiro Kitamura brings a kind of samurai energy to his character.) Regardless, he's a wild card.

But the main benefit here is actor Dieter Laser, who plays the doctor. He seems like a born horror star (with a great name). He has a reptilian face with a long, thin swipe of a mouth and a chin shaped like a tire, perfectly flat and round with square edges. In the film, he dresses his sheer, sharp frame in crisp clothes, from his effeminate, white lab coat to his occasional black suits. He's not funny and has no catch phrases, and he's genuinely scary. Up to now, Laser is perhaps best known for his films with the German director Volker Schlöndorff, but I wouldn't be surprised if he turned into the next Robert Englund.

Overall, The Human Centipede seems like a movie of the moment more than a lasting classic. Indeed, its spell wears off almost immediately after the movie ends. But for a short while, some brave souls may get a gleeful, squirmy kick out of it.

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