The problem with The Human Centipede, the notorious little B-movie about a mad scientist who kidnaps three young people and surgically connects them butt-to-mouth, is not that the film is unwatchably graphic or horrific. The problem is that this slick piece of schlock is dull, risible and, ultimately, boring.
Writer-director Tom Six, whose name happens to have the same number of syllables as Ed Wood’s, uses a surprising amount of restraint while telling the warped tale of the German scientist Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser), whose glare alone could make small children cry. After kidnapping and tying up two American bimbos (Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie) and a Japanese tourist (Akihiro Kitamura), he cheerfully proceeds to explain the medical procedure he intends to perform on them, complete with helpful slide-show illustrations.
When the experiment is finished, whatever the person on the front end of the centipede eats will eventually emerge from the third person. To reveal that the bad doctor successfully carries out his plan (and gets to tell one of the girls “Swallow it, bitch!”) doesn’t spoil anything: There would be no movie otherwise. But after you get over the initial shock and disgust of seeing three people surgically connected in a manner you won’t find in the pages of Gray’s Anatomy, The Human Centipede has little to offer except lazy plot contrivances, hammy acting and lots of mumbling by Williams and Yennie, who spend half the film with their faces buried in buttocks.
I’ve read some lengthy, thoughtful essays online that invest The Human Centipede with all sorts of meaning and metaphoric significance. But I think Six, who is already at work on a sequel, is just a huckster who came up with a concept too gross to ignore. The only reason to endure The Human Centipede is sheer curiosity, but trust me when I say you’ll end up feeling burned. And a little nauseous.
Cast: Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, Akihiro Kitamura, Andreas Leupold, Peter Blankenstein.
Writer-director: Tom Six.
Producers: Ilona Six, Tom Six.
An IFC Films release. Vulgar language, violence, gore, nudity, surgical depravity. In Miami-Dade: Plays Friday Sept. 10 and Friday Sept. 17 at midnight at the Cosford Cinema.