Not for the easily offended, writer-director Tom Six's The Human Centipede offers some very real rewards mixed in with its shocks. It's already been identified in some circles as a surefire cult classic, and two sequels are rumored to be in the works.
The movie wallows in its transgressive premise: Mad scientist Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser, of 1990's The Man Inside) is obsessed with stitching humans together, mouth to anus, as he once did with his beloved "three-dog." Whether you consider this premise abhorrent or simply juvenile, it's undeniable that the finished product exhibits some real craft.
From its carefully composed visuals to its unhurried pacing – unusual for a feature clocking in at a lean 90 minutes – Six's movie offers formal restraint and control in the service of a plot blending calculated shock value and fever-dream continuity. Special credit goes to Laser, whose heady performance elevates him to the highest echelon of film's mad-scientist portrayals.
That doesn't mean The Human Centipede is for everyone – how much you appreciate it will ultimately depend on your appetite for the macabre. That's unfortunate, because its most sophisticated technical achievements deserve a wider audience. Taken as a whole, however, the movie can only be recommended to the staunchest fans of the body-horror genre.
The Human Centipede is playing tonight at the Bridge Theatre, and is available via cable's OnDemand. For tickets and showtimes, click here.