Wide World of Horror: ‘The Human Centipede (First Sequence)’


The Human Centipede (First Sequence)


Written by Tom Six
Directed by Tom Six
Netherlands, 2009

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) was sold to the public at large, and horror fans in particular, as a film guaranteed to shock even the heartiest of person. Unfortunately, Tom Six forgot that there’s more to shock than a stupid idea, there’s execution. The cat needs to be out of the bag right away, The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is a terrible film. But, it’s not a terrible film because its content is offensive. Nope, The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is a terrible film because it lacks execution and anything that would truly allow it to stand out as a horror movie.

Herr Six’s film does have three humans surgically connected together to form a centipede. That sentence sounds shocking, the film, and the premise, deserves that much credit. That, however, is all the credit The Human Centipede (First Sequence) should ever receive. This is a film that never moves beyond its premise and surrounds said premise with nary a drop of substance or quality filmmaking. The film keeps hinting that there is more beneath the surface than just a case of a simple human monstrosity. There really isn’t anything beneath the surface, and the film knows this, and that’s why it is oh so terrible.

A fifteen minute short, that’s what The Human Centipede (First Sequence) would have worked best as. Instead it’s a very padded out and empty feature length film. The problems start right from the very beginning when it becomes clear that the script and direction have no intention of delivering anything other than a stock horror film. We don’t see the innocent dog/s meet his/her end, but we know that something happens to a dog, because in a lazy horror movie that’s the cheapest and easiest way to put a pin on evil. The villain has the face of someone who can’t be anything other than evil. He hates humanity, and he lucks out in the discovery of two very ditzy American tourists. From stem to stern The Human Centipede (First Sequence) has nothing new to offer to the horror genre. In lieu of new the film relies on easily recognizable shock tactics, character beats, and horror tropes.


Horror movies that are based on nothing more than shock usually have their time in the sun and then quickly disappear. In the age of streaming and ready availability this is less and less the case with many titles. As a film The Human Centipede (First Sequence) has almost no staying power. The shock of what the film is going for fades away as soon as the end credits roll. The movie never reaches so bad its great levels. If anything in its final moments The Human Centipede (First Sequence) cements its ineptitude as the script frantically tries to attach some kind of deeper importance to what has previously transpired. That importance is never earned, nor does the film deliver on its shocking premise. The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is, sadly, an example of the type of empty shock horror that needs to disappear into darkness with extreme haste.


-Bill Thompson

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