THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
"THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 (FULL SEQUENCE)"
Warning: I can't effectively convey my feelings on this film without giving away specific details of what's in it. Be advised that spoilers abound.
As far as critics go, I was one of the bigger proponents of Tom Six's The Human Centipede. My rule of thumb with horror movies is that they should actually be horrific, and boy, was that movie ever horrific. It was also not really as graphic as a lot of people assumed it would be. There were certainly a few graphic moments, but it was a film that often tricked you into thinking you'd seen more than you had. The psychological element was what did it; Six constantly forced you to imagine what it would be like to be literally sewn mouth-to-anus to another person, unable to move or call for help. I found the movie genuinely unsettling. At the time of its release, Six promised that the sequel, The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence), would make the original “look like My Little Pony.” Well, if nothing else, he's clearly a man of his word.
The sequel sets itself apart instantly with its stark black-and-white photography and London setting. Our central character is Martin (Laurence R. Harvey), a sweaty, morbidly obese man who speaks only in a series of grunts and squeals. Martin lives with his verbally abusive mother, who blames him for the fact that her husband sexually molested Martin as a child. Martin is obsessed with – get ready – Tom Six's The Human Centipede, which he watches repeatedly while working as a security guard in a parking garage. So obsessed is he with the film that he has plans to recreate it. He beats innocent victims over the head with a crowbar, binds their hands and feet, and dumps them in a vacant warehouse. (Apparently, his employers never notice the excessive amount of blood left on the parking garage floor.) Martin even tricks Human Centipede actress Ashlynn Yennie into coming to London; despite not speaking, he has somehow convinced her that she's auditioning for a Quentin Tarantino film. After he has twelve victims assembled, Martin begins making his own creation. Unlike the original's Dr. Heiter, he has no actual medical experience, and so he uses duct tape and staples to connect one person's mouth to the next person's ass.
There are essentially two parts to The Human Centipede 2. The first hour is the “boring” part. Martin is not nearly as interesting a character as the demented Dr. Heiter was. He's grotesque, but not much else. There are long stretches of him simply sitting and watching the first film on a laptop, or perusing a scrapbook he has made in its honor. Occasionally he beats someone with a crowbar. There isn't any tension or suspense. I found myself getting impatient with the repetitiveness of it all. Six essentially wants us to wallow in this sad, pathetic man's dreary existence, which includes wrapping sandpaper around his penis and masturbating. (Ouch!) Setting the stage a little bit is fine; we just don't need a whole hour of it.
The last half hour is the “gross” part. As if determined to obliterate any restraint he may have shown in the first Human Centipede, Six goes all out with the depravity. Martin bashes his victims' teeth in with a hammer. He shoots them all up with laxatives; because they are jerry-rigged together, most of them end up with a diarrhea facial. (The only splash of color you see in the movie is, appropriately, brown.) For his grand finale, Martin wraps barbed wire around his penis and rapes the woman at the tail end of the centipede. There's more, but you've had enough. And I'm sorry for having to put these images in your head in order to tell you about the film.
Tom Six appears to have either lost or willfully abandoned his sense of pacing and mounting dread. The film is boring until it suddenly becomes repulsive. There is no middle ground, no attempt to modulate the tone. I still believe horror movies should be horrific. That said, there's a difference between being horrific and being repulsive. It's easy to repulse an audience. Simply show flesh being stapled, or feces being swallowed, or an innocent woman being raped with barbed wire. Horrifying an audience is a lot harder, because it requires some level of restraint. A director has to know when the exact right moment is to unleash something awful. Six fails to do that, opting instead to throw as much awful stuff at you as possible. Admittedly, it may well have been his intention to repulse the audience. Nevertheless, repulsion for its own sake has no valid artistic point.
I'll give Six credit for two things. First, there is one genuinely chilling moment in which the members of the not-yet-assembled centipede all shriek in fear after one of them, who has seen The Human Centipede, yells, “He's going to sew us ass-to-mouth, just like in that movie!” Second, the bit with Ashlynn Yennie is clever. She plays “herself” as a second-rate actress who thinks she's a major star for having appeared in a notable film. Someone needs to give her a comedy, because she's quite funny. Beyond that, I can't say much positive about The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence). It is a vile piece of work, one that has open contempt for anyone who might be inclined to watch it. Rather than trying to entertain us, Six goes all out in an attempt to make us sick, to offend our very sensibilities. He has succeeded. And screw him for that.
(zero stars out of four)
The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) is unrated, but contains heretofore unimaginable amounts of blood, gore, nudity, and rape. The running time is 1 hour and 31 minutes.
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