Body horror of a most repulsive kind, The Human Centipede (First Sequence) pushes at, and finally barrels straight through, the boundaries of modern cinematic shock-imagery. Tom Six’s exploitation film is designed to elicit not simply revulsion but urgent questions of “why?”, as his story – about two American tourists who fall victim to a German doctor’s lunatic experiment – delivers on its insane premise without ever quite intimating an underlying reason for staging such madness in the first place. Six’s set-up is thin gruel: heading out to a club, Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) wind up stranded on a forest road when their car breaks down, compelling them (after a passerby sexually menaces them) to randomly walk through the woods until they stumble upon the home of a big bad wolf, Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser). Some doped glasses of water later, the girls awaken to find themselves strapped to hospital beds, listening to Dr. Heiter explain his plan to use them – as well as a newly captured Japanese man named Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura) – in a procedure to form the titular insectoid “structure.” It turns out Heiter’s career was as a surgeon who separated Siamese twins, making his latest endeavor the unification flip-side to his former work. Otherwise, though, Six provides scant subtextual currents to the mad doctor’s plot, save for the fact that his first name is Joseph and Katsuro slanders him as a “Nazi,” suggesting that perhaps Heiter is a symbolic Return of the Reich determined to punish, by proxy, both his American foes and disappointing Japanese comrades. The director’s dreamily gliding camerawork and canny framing generate a mood of inevitable doom, and the square-jawed, psychotic-looking Laser seems to have been born to play Heiter, a maniac so frightening he’s occasionally amusing. Most important to the proceedings, however, is that Six’s narrative doesn’t back off from its prime threat – by midway point, Heiter has not only created his ass-to-mouth human centipede (with Lindsay, punished for trying to escape, as the dual-connected middle segment), but he’s set about trying to train it like a dog. It’s mind-boggling monstrousness, and if the demented film proves disappointingly devoid of any serious thematic meat, it nonetheless proves a haunting one-track exercise in body-invasion terror, ably achieving its goal of providing original, eye-scrub-required horror imagery.