The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is a horror movie with a sensational concept at its core: suturing together three human beings to create a Siamese triplet. The beginning of The Human Centipede (First Sequence) will remind many of Hostel, as it involves tourists in Europe that end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is not torture horror. The situation Lindsey (Ashley C. Williams), Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie), and Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura) find themselves in is mentality and physical torturous but that is a means to an experiment’s end for the surgeon performing it, Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser).
Some of the best scenes in the film involve talking, with future actions implied rather than seeing actual gore. One of the best moments in the film is when Dr. Heiter is describing to his three captives what he is going to do them and what the result of the operation will be.
It is in this scene and a few others in which the tone of The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is striking similar to that of From Hell. In both films, the goal was more to disturb than to show graphic violence, though both films contain violent acts. Director Tom Six takes the time to let the viewer see the horror grow in the three victims eyes as the didactic school house session proceeds.
After the flagitious operation, the transmogrified three see their old lives vanish in a held up mirror and their new joined life begin. During the second act in the film, an often neglected horror film element shimmies into play. Not only is this element brought in but unlike in Scream, this element is fully competent, where in the latter it was inept. Instantly the doctor’s unusually gelid conduct is suspect to them, as it was at the beginning of the film to Lindsey and Jenny.
Why the two girls did not run after the strange doctor said he did not like human beings was as rational a decision as a girl being chased who decides to run deeper into an abandoned house instead of out the front or back door. Randy Meeks would have a field day lampooning this plot point in The Human Centipede (First Sequence).
Everything disagreeable that could happen after the three are joined does happen and then some. Dr. Heiter’s story telling once again comes into play. Before the operation, the doctor recites the tale of his first centipede experiment, mental punishment for the upcoming human centipede’s recalcitrant center piece. When all is said and done, the story could not eclipse what “the center piece” really has to endure. The viewer is bound to feel revulsion and sorrow for her at least twice during the film’s run time.
One inspired piece of scripting by Tom Six is that one of the victims, Katsuro, never speaks a word of English, his dialogue is all in subtitles. He has one of the most important character moments in the third act of the film where the past and insanity intermingle. From a cultural standpoint, it may be difficult to understand his view of the world but could anyone really not believe they were being punished for some past crime in that horrid situation?
Tom Six’s The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is not ground-breaking horror but its core concept is galvanizing and horror movie gold, almost as good as SAW 1’s Jigsaw and his puzzles. When your central concept is so attention grabbing, the rest of the film can not hope to live up to it. The Human Centipede (First Sequence), through its second and third act, crawls on its hands and knees close to it.