In Tom Six's torture-porn game-changer The Human Centipede, an evil German doctor kidnaps a Japanese man and two vapid American girl tourists, imprisons them in his basement lab, and shows them a presentation of simplistic hand-drawn slides that illustrate his diabolical plan: By surgically connecting all three via digestive tract, he will turn three beings into one. Just like that, an iconic movie monster is born. Never as explicit as a Saw or Hostel film, Centipede disarms the viewer with comedy early on, then swiftly shifts into the shit (literally and figuratively), managing to maintain a steady aura of stomach-churning dread purely through performance and suggestion. It's definitive psychological horror. The film plays on the notion that the only thing more frightening than death is a state bridging life and death, in which, though one's body is no longer his own to control, the mind remains conscious. If the standard cinematic way of dealing with that fear is by giving victims a last-minute burst of heroism to arrange their own reprieve, then The Human Centipede is truly subversive in its hopelessness. Centipede ultimately manages to correct mainstream horror's bullshit conservative ideology. It's become an old film theory chestnut that the horror heroine who says "no" to sex gets to live while her friends die -- thus, the Final Girl. Six's final girl never gets to have sex, but in the end, she's truly fucked.
May 7-13, 2010