Human Centipede changes everything. It makes you question what is a “good” movie based on its particular qualities, and what legitimately goes too far. If a movie that is trying to be repulsive and revolting actually is, is it an accomplished film-making feat or something that just pushes the boundaries of decency for a quick buck?
Regardless of what this Tom Six directed effort aims to be, you can be sure to never forget it. The premise? Deplorable. The execution? Shocking. The effect of it all? Everlasting. No matter what horror films have come before, no matter how gratuitous they may have become, the single phrase of, “Feed her” will forever be associated with one of the most perverse, disgusting moments ever committed to digital film.
Of course, curiosity kills, and stating such things only makes the need to see it stronger, brilliant marketing by any stretch. It’s an easy film to write off too, beginning with two woman on vacation through Europe when they end up lost. They’re whiny and annoying, in your average movie perfect fodder for some maniacal slasher. Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) end up at a former German doctor’s house for refuge.
He’s nuts of course, Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser) producing some terrifying looks as he prepares to use the girls in an experiment. He was an expert in separating conjoined twins, but now looks to put people back together for his own demented reasons… but not in the usual manner.
What follows may be the most daring acting display of all time, three people joined together, anus to mouth. That’s our premise, and it’s all the more terrifying because this is not a film where the people escape or fight back, but become forever sewn to each other. If you’re wondering how they eat, well, think about it. “Feed her” makes a lot more sense now, doesn’t it?
For such a low budget indie film, it’s staggering how effective this movie is. It’s not just the premise, but how effectively conveyed it is. The moment of the full reveal of Heiter’s finished “project” is absolutely ghastly. The old adage of, “It’s only a movie” doesn’t even fit. Mentally, the image of someone performing this on a set, stuck in such a position, is simply too much. All credit goes to the cast; the rest of us just have sit and watch in awe.
For budgetary reasons (surely), Human Centipede was shot digitally, and it actually looks stable. Just about everything this AVC encode does is handled to perfection, any faults purely part of the source. The opening shot is of a highway, the trees rigidly defined and somewhat lackluster. There’s little question that this isn’t film.
Then it turns around, the close-ups begin to greatly impress, and the detail is stunning. The natural clarity provided by the digital format is in full effect, this aside from some noise along the walls of the house as the light begins to dim. From the girls to an unfortunate truck driver, everyone is given a close-up that showcases the ability of HD video. The consistency is superb, rarely a moment where the overall texture falters. A bit of aliasing, especially on the cars, is the only thing breaking the illusion.
Black levels are even impressive, usually a point of contention with digital sources. Coupled with a vivid contrast, one scene where it intentionally blows out, and the dimensionality is there within the image. Nothing here looks overly faded.
Colors become dependent on the scene, varying from cool to a monochromatic orange during a late night sequence with the doctor. Flesh tones obviously follow. Generally, it’s a pale film, desaturated matching the look the material is going for. A few exterior scenes liven up some greens due to the forested area surrounding the secluded home, but that’s it for genuine color saturation.
A general PCM stereo mix is sufficient. Most of the movie is low key, and a 5.1 mix wouldn’t do much other than accentuate the echo within the home. The score is minimalistic too, again making the need for some surround bleed unnecessary.
What’s here is adequate, even if the stereo channels never come alive as individuals. They exist as one, no positional dialogue with hardly a hint of side-specific screaming of any kind. Dialogue falls into the cheaper range, meaning the sound design doesn’t feature much in the way of ADR. It’s mostly live with a natural air about it.
A section labeled behind-the-scenes is a collection of footage from the set, no interviews or narration. An interview with Tom Six is brief, but delves into the idea and execution of the concept. Casting tapes are included, followed by a small-time foley session and one deleted scene. Trailers and alternate posters remain.