Directed by Tom Six
What is more terrifying? Falling victim to a sadistic doctor with surgical precision or an obsessed mental case that has no idea what he’s doing? That’s a question director Tom Six might want you to consider as you sit down to watch The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence, the antithetical follow-up to the pop horror sensation The Human Centipede: First Sequence.
The sequel departs from its predecessor in every conceivable way: A sterile operating room becomes a dingy warehouse, the victims are now UK-born and completely nameless, and the central villain transforms from mad scientist into a molested mongoloid with access to a crowbar and power stapler.
Every frame of The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence is absolutely filthy. Martin (Harvey), a mentally deranged security guard determined to make a more … ambitious version of the human centipede dreamed up by Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser) in the original film, slithers across the screen glistening in sweaty perversion.
Through years of sexual abuse at the hands of his father as a child, Martin now lives with his mother who, without hesitation one night over dinner, announces that she wants to kill him and then herself. Martin’s scrapbook reveals his obsession with the first film as does his constant repeat viewings of the original that he owns and cherishes on DVD.
Martin seemingly kills at will, shooting unsuspecting Londoners haphazardly and anesthetizing them with his trusty crowbar. They aren’t really people; each one only represents a number to Martin (and to Tom Six apparently). In the first film the two American girls (Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie) and the ordeal they are put through is emotionally engaging. Their performances force you to empathize with the constant terror they experience from moment to moment as the horrific reality they find themselves in begins to take hold. The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence, there are twelve victims, but as characters they are reduced to faceless, tortured individuals that are only seen as a means to an end – and their demise is to endure a sloppy, poorly contrived and medieval “operation” as Martin creates his elementary version of the centipede.
The only character who returns from the original is actress Ashlynn Yennie, who gets lured to Martin’s dungeon warehouse under the pretense that she is up for an important audition. Yennie played the ass end of the centipede in First Sequence, and she returns in the sequel to reward us with some of the best moments in the film.
Featuring an actress from your first film playing herself and a villain who fetishizes the original reveals Six’s meta approach to his sequel, offering up several avenues to explore that he simply couldn’t in the original. Is Six hitting on the conservative position that a film like The Human Centipede can drive a troubled individual to commit hideous acts of violence? Is he making fun of the idea of a movie within a movie and the arguably overplayed self-awareness seen in the horror genre lately? Or is he raising a middle finger to the fans of the first film by turning them into the helpless victims seen in the sequel?
Just as the original can be seen as a metaphor for how the American horror genre has simply been regurgitating J-horror for years, Six and his cohorts certainly give us a lot to chew on. But in the end, if Six is saying anything, he’s recommending viewers and critics don’t read into this film at all. You’ll be thinking about this film a lot more than he did, and whatever conclusions you draw, Six probably didn’t intend it that way at all. That’s why, ultimately, The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence is really just one long, elaborately set up fart joke.
So how gory is it? Will you faint or wretch in the theater lobby? First off, the film is shot entirely in black and white so once the head bashing and teeth pulling begin, the visceral punch that color gives is entirely absent. Even if it were shown in color, this is certainly not one of the goriest, most disturbing films ever made. In fact, it’s not even in the top ten. The lack of color does improve upon certain moments, especially in the climax, providing a classic sheen to the images and making them seem more iconic – if these moments were in color, they wouldn’t be as indelible.
Once the saga is complete with The Human Centipede 3: Final Sequence, Six will have completed the horror genre’s equivalent of the Ouroboros – the first film’s ending becomes the beginning of the second; the third entry starts where the sequel ends – linking all three films together so they can be watched on an endless loop (if you were inclined to do that for some crackbrained reason). Apparently, Six is more in love with his overall concept instead of being concerned with making three films that stand on their own. The popularity of The Human Centipede brand is undeniable, but if Six isn’t careful, he might end up swallowing his own tail, destined to endlessly copy and repeat a now proven formula for success.
2 out of 5