Human Centipede (2009)

In 2009 Tom Six released HCa film everyone knows, few have watched, and nobody wants to see. Human Centipede reminds us of the exploitation era of the seventies where films like Last House on the Left, Cannibal Holocaust and Salo were considered too shocking to watch. Unlike other modern Torture Porn movies like Hostel II or the Saw franchise, Human Centipede slows the pacing down thereby dancing on the razor’s edge between body horror and torture porn.
Is it sadistic or entertaining to watch? It is definitely entertaining. One can’t ignore the deliberate framing and composition of every shot. This isn’t a shaky cam running through a film makers sadistic imagination. From scenes of deep green’s and reds to warm amber tones, we view Tom Six painting with colors and always directing our visual focus. This even includes using paintings of bloody siamese twins. It’s pleasing when we can tell we’re moving to the next sequence simply due to a detailed shot composition.
The story focuses on Dr. Heiter, a sadistically evil doctor of Nazi proportions. Dieter Laser’s performance of Dr. Heiter is beyond extraordinary. His body language is so masterful there are times we can see rage boiling beneath his skin. One of the truly terrifying moments is when he is coaxing Ashley C. Williams’ character, Lindsay, out of her hiding place. His life is dedicated to realizing his fantasy of creating conjoined creatures, such as siamese twins or a Human Centipede, and that is the premise. A body horror premise that is so simple but it carries enough weight to gross out and scare people away from ever watching it. Yes, there is definitely a moment one may pause and wonder if it’s the Deep Throat for those with the scatological fetish. Maybe, it would be if it lacked the previously mentioned technical skill and the theme wasn’t about pain.
The theme is where we edge back against the torture porn. The genre isn’t about the actual infliction of pain and suffering. Rather, it’s about isolation and submission. Them not being able to fight back or has any power to stop their conjoined fate is terrifying. Then, when reality starts to settle in, we realize this self proclaimed doctor lacks the ability to successfully pull off this experiment. This is one of the most mature aspects of the writing. When we begin, we’re given an absurdist movie, there’s a shot of a guy mourning his three conjoined dogs, and we visit the lives of the two melodramatic girls. However, as the story progresses, we see the colors fade into a sterile white and the operation becomes more documentary style. There’s an unnerving scene of the doctor formally explaining their procedure while an unmic actor screams in the background giving it more of that “this could happen to you” tone.
Although our victims go to a point of no return, our catharsis is delivered because of Dr. Heiter’s ego. After he takes on godhood, we watch his ego stumble and become careless. One could easily imagine all the problems going wrong with this doctor’s conjunction and procurement of victims. However, there are no quick endings in this tale of madness, for not even a bullet to the head promises a quick death. In the end, the slower pacing made sure this movie never pushed to extreme shock, and the high production quality and great performances continue to make it a horror that shouldn’t be ignored.

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