The Human Centipede (First Sequence) Blu-ray Review
The Human Centipede is an interesting transfer. Filmed on a low budget, the film impresses at times whilst disappointing in others. The disc presents the film in its OAR of 1.88:1 and in 1080P. It is presented on a Region B locked disc and has the most original and entertaining “You cannot play this disc” message I have ever seen, if you happen to have a wrong region player.
Perhaps the most interesting thing is the contrast between the scenes shot outside and the ones shot inside. There are very few scenes that are shot outside, but just look at the early scene of the girls walking in the woods in the dark to see just how great the transfer can look at its best. Admittedly even during these scenes it is not amongst the best on the format, but considering its low budget origins it is far better than I was expecting. The level of detail is impressive with every leaf standing out perfectly and the rain beautifully defined in the torch light. This level of detail stretches far into the background, and even in the torchlight the girl’s clothing stands and the facial tones are accurate.
The majority of the film, however, takes place inside the Doctor’s House and it is here where the transfer doesn’t quite live up to the early promise. The whole house just seems rather flat and lifeless, the level of 3D pop that one might expect is simply not here. Facial detail is also not pronounced, people’s skin tones seem waxy and the detail on the walls and furniture is also subdued.
Black levels are reasonably dense without ever being totally inky, but the contrast levels are rather lacking. It is also not a particularly colourful transfer due to the setting, taking place in a cool modernist interior most of the time, and populated by a mostly naked centipede wearing just white pants on each element. However – in the brief scenes outside during the day colours are nicely rendered and bright.
Overall then the transfer has some very nice aspects to it, but ultimately like the film there is nothing truly outstanding here. Ultimately it is an average transfer for an average film.
The Human Centipede is brought to Blu-ray in the original soundtrack. This is presented in English, German and Japanese and mixed in DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio.
The film is very well mixed, it has to be said. The dialogue is always clear and precise and well anchored without being particularly dynamic. The wideness of the sound field is never particularly impressive however with everything being pretty anchored to the centre.
There is also very little in the way of sub action although to be fair this isn’t really the kind of movie you would expect to push the bass very hard. There are just a few gunshots in the film, which are represented very clearly, but apart from this the soundtrack is a decent representation of a completely undemanding source.
The film comes with a feature length commentary from the Director Tom Six in which he talks about the origin of the idea and also describes the filming process in some detail. This is certainly interesting but is a little dry and is not really something that would support repeated listens. More Tom Six is available should you want it in two Interview segments – one lasting 23 minutes and the other covering a lot of the same ground but in only five minutes. To be honest, after listening to the man speak for the length of the commentary and these two interviews you do really feel like you have had enough. He is a surprisingly personable chap but all this focus on him is certainly overkill.
Luckily the other extras are rather less focussed on the director. We get an eight minute Behind the Scenes featurette which has no commentary or narration at all, simply a camera filming various scenes. This is actually surprisingly interesting (it’s nice not to have to listen to actors praising each other) but certainly too brief and designed to be watched once. A Deleted Scene merely shows the centipede crying on the floor whilst the Doctor prances around in a most ridiculous way. If this had stayed in the film then it would have been to its serious detriment.
A look at a Foley session has the sense of two mates making a home video, which is essentially what it is. Not very informative or interesting. We also get to see two minutes of a casting session involving the two girls, and then Tom Six is back, being interviewed with Dieter Laser in a Q and A session which manages to cover the same material again. However, this is perhaps the most interesting of all the extras in that it does provides two different viewpoints. The two participants seem to rather overrate the work, however – especially when Laser talks about how multi-layered the script is. Really?
The extras package is certainly extensive, if rather too cantered on the director for my taste. It would have been nice to have some more detail on what it was like for the actors to be part of the centipede, and some more “making of detail”. Overall, the theme seems to be the same here as it is with the film. Solid but unspectacular.
The Human Centipede is not the horror classic that many would have you believe, but then neither is it an absolute disaster. Strip away the daring premise and you have a very average film that does absolutely nothing to push any boundaries. The film is amazingly anaemic providing very little in the way of either scares or gore. The writing is merely competent and the acting is quite frankly shockingly bad.
The disc is a reasonable effort for such a mediocre film but the picture and sound are both relentlessly average – never truly wowing the viewer or stirring the soul. The extras are reasonably comprehensive but provide a very narrow focus – concentrating far too much on the director.
If you enjoyed the film then I am sure you are going to find plenty to admire on this disc, but personally for such a wonderfully twisted premise I was hoping for rather more.
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