The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)
Laurence R. Harvey, Ashlynn Yennie, Maddi Black, Vivien Bridson, Bill Hutchens
(IFC; US theatrical: 7 Oct 2011 (Limited release); 2011)
He must have been raised by reprobate, absentee or angry parents with hatred toward normal society. He was probably abused as a child, the beneficiary of another’s disturbing lust. He’s a sick, twisted f*ck who needs psychological counseling. Beyond the basics, he probably tortured and tormented his actors on set, lying about the purpose of the picture to get them to do disgusting things. The resulting movie, as a result, was nothing more than a psycho subjecting his victims to humiliation and harm before stitching them together. Overall, it’s an unwatchable atrocity loaded with graphic violence, bloodshed, and shit, made by someone who will only encourage a wealth of wanton imitators. Any sequel he creates will probably be so horrific and nauseating that it should inspire protests, not praise.
That’s the charge - and for his part, writer/director Tom Six stands visibly accused. So what, exactly, did he decide to do when he crafted this latest installment in the Human Centipede series (subtitled “Full Sequence”)? Well, he bought into each and every one of the aforementioned accusations and created a movie that matched, or surpassed them all. Indeed, this incredibly disgusting follow-up forces one to question their own tolerances toward humiliation and bodily fluids, fueled by a performance so peculiar, so intriguing in both its origins and eventual originality that it more than makes up for the offal around it.
Someone named Laurence Harvey is Martin, a pudgy, uncomfortable asthmatic Englishman who works as a parking garage attendant. He is obsessed with the movie The Human Centipede, watching it over and over again and going to so far as to keep one of the insects as his pets and filling a scrapbook with his desire to duplicate the plotline. The only difference is that Martin isn’t going for a mere three victims. His goal is to create a full sequence of twelve.
As he picks off potential ‘participants’ with a hand gun and a tire iron, he must battle his angry mother (Vivien Bridson) and the pedophilic Dr. Sebring (Bill Hutchens) who believes he can ‘cure’ him. They are afraid of what Martin might do since it’s suggested that he was sexually abused by his now imprisoned father. Once our round, redolent hero puts his passion into action, their worst fears will be realized…or will they?
The Human Centipede II is hardly a winning experience. It wallows in misery so unapologetically that it makes you feel filthy just being in the same room with it. But there is clearly a method to Six’s madness, a responsorial design which sees the storyline skirt anything remotely bordering on characterization or complexity to deliver what critics and pundits have argued about since the first film. Indeed, if taken at face value, the movie is a mean spirited, misguided affront. It favors shock and unsavory suggestion for anything remotely resembling art or artistic ambition.
Dig a bit deeper, however, and you can see Six purposefully acquiescing to every allegation leveled at him. He is making the movie everyone said he made the first time around, destroying their already off base arguments in the process. Like Eli Roth, who found a unique way to approach the next in what appears to be a franchise of Hostel films (his answer? remake the original with girls instead of guys), Six is playing it smart, adding a gallon or two of high octane gasoline to what it bound to be a firestorm of hate for his about to be condemned creation. Instead of trying to rewrite history or reverse the condemnation, he’s purposefully playing into the hands of the hysterics.
Of course, they have something legitimate to gripe about. The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is a frequently squalid and undeniably disturbing effort. It turns Harvey into a legitimate human oddity, his bulbous figure and sweaty wheezing adding to the overall effect. Martin, to quote Soft Cell, is indeed a boy with problems. His inferred backstory (including one twisted aural flashback) is enough to get you on the couch for a couple of years - and you’re just a viewer. His mannerisms, on the other hand, range from the pathetic to the deranged…and Six is going to show us every sandpaper peculiarity in between.
More upsetting, however, is the lack of compassion on display. Everyone, from Martin to his sometimes nameless targets, are cruel and heartless. They have sex in parking lots, beat up old women, stumble home drunk from constantly clubbing, and treat anyone who dare dampen their hedonism with direct disrespect. That they end up stapled together (literally) as part of some sick psycho’s fantasy is a kind of backwards justice, a punishment for playing fast and loose with their treatment of others. None of this legitimizes Martin’s responses. Even with a childhood seemingly swimming in pedophilia, his freakshow fascination with Six’s original film is destined to produce disturbing fruit.
From a filmmaking standpoint, the movie looks very good. In order to push the envelope, Six decided to make the movie in black and white. It ends up delivering some very stark and sometimes surreal imagery. Martin, frequently naked with his puffy persona dripping disease, is even further distanced by the lack of correct color. Of course, no viewer could sit through the shit and slit ending if it were offered in vibrant Cinemascope. The lack of tints doesn’t dismantle the power of Six’s suspect imagination, however. Whatever restraint he showed the first time around is now unhealthy and unleashed. You don’t enjoy a film like The Human Centipede II as much as endure it, the end result being nothing more than a bragging point on your aesthetic resume.
And don’t worry - Six is coming back with one final film in the franchise, something he swears will make The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) look like “a trip to Disneyland” by comparison. Where he can take the concept is questionable. The original was just a horror extrapolation on an utterly insane idea. This movie is a meta-manipulative response. Contemplating the possibilities becomes an exercise in ick. Even with the ass to mouth basics, Six seems capable of creating another novelty. For all the accusations that arrived when Dr. Heiter fist made his medical atrocity known, Martin’s work is far more troubling. He’s everything envisioned by those who hated what they saw initially. The Human Centipede II only makes matters worse. Much worse.