Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tom Six's THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE is the crap of the year -- in so many ways. Breaking News: Update on the Sequel!

The first thing that needs to be said about Dutch filmmaker Tom Six's "controversial" horror film, as the PR push would have it, is that THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE constitutes poor movie-making on almost any level you might want to address -- beginning with plot, pace, and simple logic. The performances are as good as the film allows, and the visuals get the job done. And that's about it for minor praise.  The first half hour is tiresome, repetitive and boring; the second is standard horror movie stuff; and the third is so filled with ridiculous, unbelievable, over-the-top nonsense (and I am not even referring to the nitwit "title" character) that I should think any real sci-fi/fan-
tasy/horror buff will be rolling his or her eyes in utter contempt.

The only good reviews I have seen -- such as that in this week's Village Voice, which gave the garbage an entire page (this, when movie coverage is dwindling so badly!) -- talk about the film in terms usually reserved for Godard and Antonioni.  Which would be fine, if the movie got its basics even close to correct.  But how can you discuss a film in a hi-falutin' manner when the filmmaker first bores you to near-death and then offers characters so stupid that they won't use the phone that's right in front of them to try to call for help, or later, when they've been "monster-ized" don't try to attack their torturer when the opportunities seem evident and many.  The capper, however (spoiler ahead, though there really isn't much to spoil in a movie where the "idea" of the monster is the only thing that makes it remotely special): once the worm turns and the victim attacks, he wounds rather than kills, so that, you know, Freddy, Jason, Leatherface (or in this case, Centipede's minor-league monster creator) can rise again.  And what about those dumber-than-you've-ever-seen policemen?  Don't ask.

Of course, all this is not the point in a movie with a premise that wants to out-disgust even Salo.  Yet Pasolini, at least, made sure we wallowed in the shit.  The Human Centipede is very nearly pristine.  Once we get the idea of what's going on, our fevered brains can make all the nasty connections.  In fact, the "Centipede" itself, once you get past its shared digestive tract, is a rather cute little concoction.  The big question is: Why would any mad scientist worth his salt want to come up with this?

TrustMovies never says "never" about watching another movie from even those filmmakers whose work he has loathed the most.  A few years back Mr. Six, shown at left, made a movie called Gay (known over here as Gay in Amsterdam) which, as the press material for Centipede informs us, was also controversial and starred "a lot of famous Dutch actors."  Maybe we'll rent that one -- which Netflix members have rated not quite up to the "didn't like it" level, while IMDB viewers gave it between two and three stars (out of a possible ten) before we tackle the Centipede's sequel, which is, we are told, already in production.

About the performances: that doctor (above) does his best Udo Kier imitation, the two girls (below) babble brightly and then scream loudly, the Japanese fellow (at bottom) gets in touch with the heritage of his culture of shame, and the cops are macho dumbos.  No one rises above a script empty of characterization,
wit and suspense.

So how did this third-trimester film abortion come about?  It is likely that Mr. Six simply stumbled upon an envelope-pushing idea for the torture-porn genre and then ran with it, having not a modicum of the necessary skills with which to flesh out this idea.   (For an ex-
ample of great premise and super follow-through in the thriller genre, see Wes Craven/Carl Ellsworth's Red Eye.)  I guess Six's envelope "push" left certain critics free to gush about the "ideas" on display, even if they do pretty much create these ideas out of whole cloth.

The Human Centipede begins its theatrical run concurrent with its On-Demand availability on Friday, April 30, in New York City at the IFC Center. For the where and how of On-Demand, click here. 

Here's the first still from the promised and forthcoming sequel  

Just kidding. This shot, under the heading Giant Caterpillar Found in University Dorm Room arrived yesterday via those folk who circulate "humor" over the web.  I must admit, it's funnier than anything in Mr Six's movie. Maybe it'll inspire him in a new direction....

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