The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence Netflix Streaming DVD | Blu-Ray Written and Directed by Tom Six Starring Laurence R. Harvey, Ashlynn Yennie, Maddi Black IFC Midnight Originally Released: September 22, 2011
Are we really not only making movies about eating shit, but making sequels to them now?
The Human Centipede 2 is not only a difficult film to watch; it’s disgusting and it’s messy. Where the first movie is cold, deliberate, clinical, and in full color; the sequel is static, filthy, filmed in black-and-white, and firmly lacking in the antiseptic of the first (quite literally). As with the initial movie, there’s not much about this horror movie to ‘scare’ you, but much of it to shock and disgust you. Tom Six delivers his promise that this sequel makes the original look like My Little Pony; but there is a cost to this, as elements of social commentary and deeper symbolism is sacrificed by the obsession of being able disturb you and shock you.
Do not take this the wrong way. I have been a hardcore horror fan for years. But take it from the example set by one of the masters, George Romero, you can scare and shock and disgust as many people as you want, but all of that turns out to be hollow if there is no deeper meaning, subtext, or symbolism in your work. Romero specialized in social commentary at the heart of his zombie films.
With Full Sequence, writer and director Tom Six endeavors to bring his “eat shit” franchise into a more art-house and avant-garde light, by filming it in black-and-white. The result is unfortunately a disingenuous attempt to cover for the limited amount of meaning, subtext, or symbolism in this creation. This is akin to drawing a Hitler moustache on a picture of a president and then claiming you actually drew a Charlie Chaplin moustache.
Deciding to make the film in black-and-white doesn’t automatically make your movie an art project. That’s like “trying to add class to ass.”
Conversely, probably the best aspect of The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence is the fact that it is not a direct sequel to the first movie. It is more of a “metasequel,” allegedly set in “our universe,” where the characters are abundantly aware of some director called Tom Six who made a disgusting movie called The Human Centipede. I think this approach was an excellent choice for this film, though I find the vocal supporters of the movie a little duplicitous when they claim the originality of the approach… Let’s not forget Wes Craven took this avenue with Freddy Krueger in New Nightmare, a highly underrated horror flick in my mind.
That aside, Human Centipede 2 shadows an antagonist by the name of Martin. Unlike the clinical obsessive doctor of the first film, Martin is almost the opposite. He is psychotic, driven to madness by the sexual abuse endured at the hands of his father and resolutely established by the verbal abuse of his mother. He finds no glimmer of hope or enjoyment in life, not even with the assistance of therapy, until he discovers a movie called The Human Centipede.
Martin becomes fixated with the film, watching it non-stop, and taking notes on the medical approaches taken by the fictional doctor. His obsession reaches its height when he decides to create the full sequence of The Human Centipede – made with a dozen people, instead of 3.
This ain’t no regular dirty dozen – it’s downright filthy!
The murkier nature of the movie creates a high tension feeling – Martin has no medical experience, delivers anesthesia to his “patients” in the form of a crowbar to the back of the head, and cuts up/stitches his victims in a germ-ridden, filthy environment full of dust, dirt, and grit.
Where the first movie’s Dr. Heitler deemed himself upper-class and scientific, the second movie’s antagonist is dark and messy – and the film overall reflects this. The darker tones, the monotone display, and the static/faster film shots reflect the sloppiness and desperation of Martin, as he struggles with his psychotic vision. Both antagonists strive to a similar goal of accomplishment within disgusting proportions, but the perspectives of each are far more vivid within the techniques of filmmaking chosen by Tom Six.
The soundtrack, like the film’s content, is also demented yet schizophrenic – and eerie. In many ways, it reminds me of art house horror, but it is a solid reflection of the antagonist of the movie. Tom Six’s method with this movie is a much more deliberate approach to being as shocking as possible, but with a deliberate sacrifice to standard storytelling, which is supplanted by a more art-house/alternative and avant-garde approach to the filmmaking and presentation.
While this abstract tactic is noticeable, it is simply for a difference of perspective. There is some social commentary lying at the depths of Full Sequence, but is limited. I’ll repeat what I mentioned earlier in this review: ‘Deciding to make the film in black-and-white doesn’t automatically make your movie an art project. That’s like “trying to add class to ass”‘.
Despite my criticism of the limited commentary and meanings, they are there. While the original film did a fair effort on being a metaphor for modern western consumption of entertainment, the second film focuses more on the legacy of escalation within challenging and shocking media. Martin is an avatar for Tom Six, and the use of his own film within THC2 is an avatar to his own influences of film… every generation has a shock-flick (or shock-rock, if you talk about music) that the moral majority refer to as the most offensive creation of all time. The film reflects this in the character of Martin, striving to go beyond that which Heitler has done. It all comes to a head when Martin is bearing witness to his crude accomplishment, and yet finds himself physically sickened by it.
Yet this analysis is simplistic. The Human Centipede movies are also simple: they’re designed to shock and disgust, plain, and simple. From a horror movie fan’s perspective, there’s a little more gore in this film – some much more shocking than I’ve encountered before (the birthing scene will most likely give me nightmares), all of which is a bonus for the horror/gore fan. Unfortunately, much of the gory violence (while overbearing) gets overshadowed by the “shit scenes,” and takes away from the horror element utterly and significantly. Additionally, the scare factor is minimal, though the disturbing nature of the main character makes for an impressive horror antagonist.
Taking all of this into account, indulge me for a moment to diverge for a moment to ponder the future of The Human Centipede. Tom Six is determined to go ahead with a sequel to this movie, believed to be titled The Human Centipede 3: Final Sequence, but how far can he go at this point? The deeper nuances and symbolism is limited at best in these first two movies, and there is not much else to go on for a third film. The first movie is a must-see at least once for horror fans; and this one is worth the horror fans checking out too, but there is a limitation to what Six can further achieve with much of this work.
Despite my reservations of this overall concern, the performance in Full Sequence of Martin by Laurence R. Harvey is truly quite sensational. Harvey delivers one of the creepiest antagonist performances I have ever seen in horror, deliberately zoning in on many of his physical attributes to contribute to his overall performance. Martin is a man of an imperfect range of emotion, but we see Laurence deliver the sadness, the obsessiveness, the anger, and frustrations. Finally, with his 12-person Centipede accomplished, we see him overjoyed, but then engulfed by remorseless disgust. Harvey takes the limited scope of a demented character, and delivers a disturbing performance that will provide you with many nightmares.
So, trailing the shock-hype of the first movie, and the intrigue and controversies surrounding this new sequel, is The Human Centipede 2 worth seeing? Yes, but only if you’re a fan of horror that enjoys being visually challenged. Only some folks will enjoy this film, and it’s fairly much only for those who can stomach it (pardon the pun) and handle the violence, the gore, the blood, and the shit. Some horror fans will recognize some small attempts to transport some subtext, but it is eclipsed by the “shock” factor that it becomes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment.
To cut a long one short, if you’re a horror fan, consider adding this one to your queue to check out at some stage. If you’re not a horror fan, avoid this one.
Overall Rating: 2½ out of 5 (add one extra point if you’re a horror movie fan)