The Human Centipede: First Sequence

Starting off this series will be the extremely odd choice of The Human Centipede: First Sequence. This is one of those movies that basically everyone has heard of, and at one time it was probably a major part of the “torture porn” genre. This can largely be owed to the concept, which is a uniquely weird one to be sure and is a good enough concept to be the sole marketing pitch. But it’s also the only reason this movie exists, and after having rewatched it for the first time in years, I still feel that’s the case. In fact, I like it even less than I did when I last watched it (though not because of the concept; I’ve seen more shocking and disgusting stuff).

One of the basic features a good horror script should have is good writing. For a horror movie to be effective at being scary, there need to be characters that the audience cares about in order for there to be a cathexis that allows the audience to suspend their disbelief and take the movie seriously. This is as I said a very basic rule of movie scripts, and The Human Centipede fails utterly at this. Maybe I’m just a jaded bitch, but to me it feels like the entire movie relies on the concept not only marketing the movie but also shocking and disgusting the audience enough for that to be the thing that creates a sense of horror. But that really wasn’t enough for me, so I just spent the whole movie being annoyed at the characters.

Our two leads are two dumb helpless women from America on vacation in Germany; they are throughout the movie denied the ability to even communicate with other characters unless it serves the plot (e.g. talking to the Dr. Heiter who performs the centipede operation). Towards the end of the movie when the centipede is made, they are literally denied the ability to speak by having both their mouths sewn onto someone’s asshole. They felt like characters who were essentially written to be victims in a torture porn movie, which, surprising as this may seem to some people, is a genre I have never particularly cared for. Part of this is because these movies are typically pretty misogynistic, not in the sense that violence happens to women but because women in these types of movies exist only to be victims.

In one part of the movie for instance, right before the surgery happens, one of the two leads escapes and is trying to get out of the house. She ends up trapped in the room with the doctor outside trying to get in. There’s a lamp nearby on the table. Does she grab it, or try to find something else to use as a weapon? Does she try to smash the window open? Does she do anything at all to indicate that she cares about her own survival? No, she sits at the end of the bed sobbing while the doctor yells at her before finally getting up and trying to do the things I mentioned when it’s convenient for the plot, because now the doctor is outside the window with a gun (which we later find out is a tranquilizer gun). She later has an opportunity to run through the window the doctor smashed. Does she do that? No, she stupidly tries to run back to save her friend, despite knowing that the doctor has already sedated her and that he needs three people to make the centipede. If she runs, she will at the very least buy her friend time, but instead she goes back and tries to drag her friend through the entire house while bleeding out her arm in a sequence that was so mind-bogglingly stupid I can’t imagine a real person ever doing something like that.

To be clear, I think violence against women on screen can be filmed in a way where it isn’t misogynistic and exploitative, because that happens in real life and it should be shown in a way that makes the audience care about the women on screen and want justice for them. But this movie is not that. It’s misogyny that results in weak characters that exist to be sewn to someone’s asshole and forced to eat shit with their tits out while the only person in the centipede with the ability to speak is a Japanese man. And so I didn’t give a fuck about either of the two leads.

If you somehow haven’t seen this movie yet, I’d recommend it just for the experience of something that was a cultural touchstone in the bygone era of 2000s torture porn movies. But personally that’s all I got out of it.

Created: 2022-10-10 Mon 06:46