Let's talk it out.
Human Centipede is the latest underground horror film building up buzz via word of mouth. Supposedly flat -out revolting, the titular 'creature' is the product of mad German science. This is a centipede not in a creature-feature way, not in a monstrous 'blob' manner, not campy, not fun. Think more along the lines of Mengele. The film's doctor traps tourists and surgically connects them to one another, mouth to anus, to form his human centipede. The food comes out one side...it leaves the other, the victims in pain and torment, forced to function as one. Yes, that means everything you think it means in between. Feel free to gag. Rumor has it that Dutch director Tom Six takes the nightmarish truth of this and gives it to you without any humor, and instead with a seriousness reserved for the most sincere of dramas. All I can say is, thanks, but I'd really rather not.
"I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine." [SOURCE]In a way, it seems easy to take objection to the lack of a star rating, it's a cop out, almost. The easy way to avoid affixing a label to something unpleasant. But I honestly don't think I can blame him. There are some films that defy our own personal logic, or exist outside of that which we feel we can assess impartially or measure for what merits they have. Ebert's written assessment is enough. He finds the positives of Six's film and points them out. Yet, Ebert's always been honest about the existence of individual bias in criticism at the end of the day, and sometimes, that's just fine.
“This is a diary of our own molestation by the Serbian government,” he said. “We’re giving this back to you.” He pointed out that the movie, which has yet to play in its native country, reflects a hidden anti-government sentiment. “In the past 10 to 15 years, the only films made in Serbia have no connection to Serbian reality,” [Source]There's something about that that makes sense, but, just like a Peta anti-cruelty shock doc, Serbian Film isn't something you watch for sheer entertainment. If it is, from the sounds of it you might be a damn sick puppy. This is the movie that horror freaks and film nerds will dare each other to see...and if you're as curious as I was now, I have the spoilers for you right here. I'll admit it, part of me just wants to talk about the crazy shit going on this film with no other motive. I mean, I'm certainly not one for any sort of censorship and if I'm not calling for judgment, I'm not quite sure why I'm telling you all of this. Anyhow, the premise is that Milos, an ex-porn star tight on cash is offered one final job for major monetary compensation. A mysterious figure wants to have Milos star in a film without a script, to simply react to whatever situation he's placed in. Milos accepts, but what he accepts is a dark and depraved world far from what he anticipated. The worst of it? *Spoiler/quite possibly ruin your day disturbing alert* There's supposedly (again, I haven't seen the film) a scene in which a pregnant woman gives birth, and the newborn is subsequently raped to death. GAH! Puke. Is it shown or implied? I don't know. I'm not sure I need to know. We'll see. All I know is that that's the sort of thing that Fox news starts tea parties about, right? I have to say, though, this sort of transgressive symbolism is nothing new to literature. Authors have been committing these crimes on paper or centuries and, in spite of the occasional banned book, not much has come of it. There's something about the translation, the visual, that really hits a moral outrage trigger, even when we know it's not real. There's power in that is something to be respected. There's something almost impressive about a film that pulls no punches, that makes no allowances in what it dares to put before you. And that's vaguely terrifying. I think that's part of why I find myself watching shock cinema. Why I go through phases where I seek it out. It's actually scary, not an escape but a horrible reminder. For me, it's almost academic, there's something that can be gleaned from seeing that which you are otherwise never shown. It's jarring in a way that shakes you. Serbian Film is the product of rage, a rage that cannot be ignored. So is there a difference between the sick and wrong of Human Centipede and the sick and wrong of Serbian Film? I think there is, yes, and without having seen either film, I think there's something to be said about the difference in purpose and inventiveness between the shock of The Human Centipede (almost just because he can) versus the cold shocks to A Serbian Film (which, to the filmmakers, seem to feel urgent and necessary). Is that shallow? Is that the old "it isn't porn, it's a tasteful foreign film" excuse? Maybe. Do you feel like you need a shower now? You should go.