The most effective horror movies tap into the worst rather than most far fetched audience fears. And while The Human Centipede manages to do lots of both, the too much information tale couldn’t be more timely, while touching on doctors as perhaps the new villain in movies, and health care horrors in the here and now.
The somewhat gleefully macabre concoction of Dutch filmmaker Tom Six, The Human Centipede could be considered a warped fantastical followup to Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. And in a sense, how both men consider insects as symbolically inflicted humiliation and torture, in personal and historical reaction to the Nazi psyche. And that the cruel and sinister designated mad scientist and Siamese twin specialist Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser) in The Human Centipede is German, should come as no surprise. Especially when he’s addressed in more familiar terms as Dr. Josef, conjuring intimations of Josef Mengele and his barbaric medical experimentation on twins at Auschwitz.
The Human Centipede follows the misfortunes of two young frivolously inclined, American female party animal tourists in Germany, who get lost in the woods one rain swept night when their car breaks down. Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) knock on the door of the only house they can find, a posh abode of the mysterious and creepy Dr. Josef Heiter.
A retired, revered medical maven in separating conjoined twins, the doctor is soon plying the pair with sleeping meds and locking them in his subterranean lab, where they will eventually be attached to a subsequently kidnapped third tourist Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura), a young man who speaks only Japanese. It seems that Heiter has grown bored with separating twins for a living, and is now obsessed with figuring out how to attach people together through their digestive canals.
Which means essentially, that Heiter’s ill-fated human guinea pigs will soon be sewn mouth to butt following complete tooth extractions. And resembling a centipede ambulating on all fours, while ingesting the fecal matter of the individual – in this case a loudly complaining Katsuro – physically preceding them. Please fill in the blanks, and spare the film critic.
While there is some deranged delight to be had regarding a supremely depraved surgeon with a decided preference for tourists who medically kidnaps foreigners in three languages, the end product, in more ways than one here, is just too over the top to be tolerated. Save for likely the most unhinged audience imaginations among us. Though notions about the medical profession today capable of as much harm as healing for whatever personal gain or gratification, provide food for thought, or rather in this case, well, sloppy seconds.
The Human Centipede: Out of control mismanaged health care, with no possibility of medical malpractice lawsuits in sight. Or more to the point, what in the world is bugging director Tom Six.