Friday, March 22, 2013

The Human Centipede Review, or "Yeah... We went there."

Really? We're reviewing this? Great. Just... Great. I guess I should watch it.


Yeah. Okay, that was something.

Listen, I could tell you that this was the worst thing I've ever seen. I could use the words that everyone else uses; deplorable, awful, disgusting, sick, etc., blah, blah, blah. You find out the premise of The Human Centipede, you can more or less figure out whether or not you're to find something of value.

So, I don't really want to just sit here and write about what a detrimental film this was. Let's be honest here, if you don't like the idea of watching a movie in which a person has their mouth sewn to the anus of another person, obviously you won't like this film.

The proclivities of the internet's own assemblage of movie critics would tend towards piling on this film, and I understand that completely. There's a lot to hate. But instead of being one of those bandwagon jumpers who spends all their time agreeing with the internet's elitist opinions, which are actually not so elitist because everyone has them, let me jump into the more hipster side of things and try to defend this film.

It's not easy, but I'm going to try.

Often, I refer to films that, whether I like them or not, should be seen if you're an aspiring filmmakers and/or die hard cinema-goer. I'm not the world's biggest Wes Anderson fan, but his movies have value in the world of artistic cinema, and so he's an example of someone I frequently insist that people check out.

I won't make the case for that with The Human Centipede at all. I don't think there's a case to be made for the idea of people giving this a chance based on its merits as cinema. I will recommend it to a very specific group of people, but I'll get to that later. For now, let me defend this film on different merits.

As often as I recommend those important filmmakers, I also hate on the MPAA. Worse than our MPAA, however, is the BBFC. Listen, I'm opposed to censorship of any sort. I've debated at length the validity of even having a rating system (I'm of the firm belief that it shouldn't exist at all and coddling morons because they can't make decisions on their own is detrimental to society.) So, when you go back to the era of the so-called Video Nasties, and this bizarre need to tell filmmakers that their expression is wrong, well, you know I'm going to get agitated.

Yes, there are some disgusting movies out there. Some very disgusting movies. And while the argument can  be made that the BBFC is getting better, I think the best bet, for both American and British bodies of bureaucratic dunderheads is to just stop.

And that's why there's a little something I like about The Human Centipede. It's challenging. It challenges us on so many fronts that you can't help yourself but imagine the depths of the horror that occurs onscreen. Even what's not shown, your imagination starts to kick into overdrive. It's so gut-wrenchingly disgusting in concept, that nothing needs to be seen, and you, in many ways, feel legitimate terror at the notion of what's happening.

It's one thing to hate the movie. I certainly don't like it. And you don't need to see it. But, you'll have an experience watching it.

I love that this movie is painful to watch that it challenges the limits of censorship. When movies like this push the envelope and get noticed doing it, it eases the pressure off of other films. It angers me that Drive was given an NC-17 for the head stomp scene, that it had to be cut down. In my opinion, the guy who gets the fork shoved into his eye and stabbed in the neck was a far more uncomfortable scene. There was something more personal about that death. The victim of the head stomp? He was a little more distant and nameless.

Of course, that's my opinion, but therein lies one of the biggest issues with censorship; we are getting information and recommendations and sometimes downright enforcement from a group of people based on their opinions. Films are subjected to these people's own prejudices, biases, morals, and thought processes. Movies, like any art form, affect everyone differently. Even where people like or hate the same movie, they are still (for the most part) developing their own unique perspective on the film. And I can't help but wonder about the people who dish out these ratings. They kind of come off as patently stupid. These aren't snuff films, people. They are fiction.

The Human Centipede is severely lacking in the department of good cinema. It's obvious what director Tom Six was going for with this film, but in all fairness, he achieves his goal very well. You will be uncomfortable watching this movie. And while you probably won't like it, there is something to be said about cinema that pushes your limits one way or the other. In an odd way, it's like the real world; people who don't challenge themselves, who don't try new things grow stagnant in both body and personality. That's right, personalities wither and get worse when they are not fed new experiences.

Again, this isn't a necessary experience, but it's something different. And sometimes we need films like this to challenge the collective personality of a society or culture. Especially those who are growing too prone to just banning things they don't like.

I like that challenge.

Now, is there a demographic who can enjoy The Human Centipede? Well, yes, actually. Obviously, you're looking at those who love horror films, but I think you'd be surprised to hear me say that it's not the hardcore crowd that would enjoy this film. Because The Human Centipede, for all of its controversy, is actually pretty tame by some of the crazier indie film subgenre standards.

Yup, there is worse out there. Much worse. Much, much, much worse. Many of the aforementioned Video Nasties would be great examples of worse. And the hardcore fans of these films would look at The Human Centipede as a nice attempt, or even a little boring. They've seen it all on film. They are kind of rolling their eyes at this film. But, if you, dear reader, are looking at this, and kind of wanting to dip your toe into the pool of those films to see if you can handle it, well then, friend, The Human Centipede is like entry-level schlock.

If you can't get through it, these kinds of movies aren't for you.

For my own part, I didn't care for the movie. But, there is value in its existence. So, take that for what it is. Maybe those who like these sorts of movies might find an interest in the villain's motives, or just the shock of what is happening. But not I.


Brit W.

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