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The Netflix Files (The Halloween Edition): The Human Centipede

In honor of Halloween, I'm doing a special edition of The Netflix Files, in which I finally review one of the more shocking and controversial horror movies out there, The Human Centipede,

in 2004, director James Wan released Saw, a horror flick about a sadistic murderer known as Jigsaw, who kidnaps two people and forces them to to escape the bathroom they're trapped in, or else they both die. The film, which was made for just over $1 million, gained a cult following among horror buffs and grossed $100 million worldwide. Some critics praised the film for it's inventiveness and having it's killer using extreme methods to teach people a lesson (much like in the 1995 thriller Seven, a  film which Wan said he and the screenwriter was a huge inspiration for making Saw), while others said it was too gimmicky for it's own good. Wan's debut horror movie also paved the way for a new breed of horror film: the torture porn subgenre. From Eli Roth's Hostel in 2005, to the rest of the Saw series and Jonathan Liebsman's prequel to the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning in 2007 and the remake to this year's atrocious Evil Dead, horror movies have taken a page from the Saw playbook, amping up the scenes of grizzly violence and gore.  

Then came Tom Six, who put his own spin on the torture porn subgenre with The Human Centipede in 2010. The setup is simple: two American girls (Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie) on an European holiday hit a snafu once their car stalls and become stranded in the middle of a forest. They end up walking to a remote home at the edge of the forest where they ask Dr. Josef Heiter (Dieter Laser) for assistance. Of course, he has no intention of helping the two ladies, so he drugs their drinking water and they awake in a makeshift hospital bed, where they, along with a Japanese tourist (Akihiro Kitamura), are told that they have been selected to partake in a sinister experiment where their lips will be connected to another person's ass to form a new species: the Human Centipede.

Giving the phrase "ass to mouth" a whole new meaning.
Surprisingly, this movie about a sadistic German surgeon who wants to see people swallow someone else's shit, shows a remarkable amount of restraint. Six lets the image of these people connected in this fashion provide the stuff of nightmares, rather that outright showing us the procedure in all it's gory detail (I assume it's really stomach-turning). The whole thing is actually well photographed, with lots of cold colors and good lighting which give off this feeling of dread that neither us, or it's characters can't escape from. In fact, the whole thing feels like i'm watching a Croneneberg film! Echos of Shivers and Dead Ringers as well as the Canadian filmmakers motif of using physical and psychological trauma as a social commentary about the state of our society, minus the social commentary, are used throughout the film, and i've gotta say:  well done, Mr. Six! Anyone who can draw homage to Cronenberg and do so with plenty of skill and restraint is doing a solid job, in my book.. The Human Centipede is disturbing, unsettling, and massed up, but all in a really good way. The final scene where everything comes to a head takes a twist that fits with the dark nature of the whole film at it leaves you feeling trapped in this living hell. Again, well done.


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