Writer/director Tom Six may think he’s outdone himself with the second installment of his horror franchise ‘The Human Centipede.’
All he’s really accomplished with ‘The Human Centipede 2 [Full Sequence]’ is prove his chorus of critics right. Yes, the new film is the grossest movie you’ll see this or possibly any other year. But it’s also irredeemably dull, and that’s the most offensive part of a movie genetically engineered to make us sick.
Meet Martin (Lawrence R. Harvey). He’s a short, lumpy parking garage drone obsessed with the film “The Human Centipede.” But this meta twist isn’t about a horror geek’s predilection for pain. Martin wants to out-do the mad surgeon from the film and connect 12 poor souls into one, long human centipede.
For those who lacked the fortitude to watch the first film, the mad Dr. Heiter (Deiter Laser) fused three people together in a way that can’t be described in a family-friendly manner.
So Martin starts collecting people unlucky enough to frequent his garage, subduing them with a few blows from a tire iron.
Meanwhile, his shrieking mother (Vivian Bridson), who makes Norman Bates’ ma look downright neighborly by comparison, is putting Martin through a cartoon-ish version of psychotherapy. Turns out Martin’s father did a number on him, leaving him the quivering, near mute-like mess we see today.
When Martin’s obsession with centipedes comes to light, the bearded doc assures Martin’s mom not to fret.
“I’m sure it’s just a passing phase,” he says.
The sequel arrives with all the right horror movie bona fides. English censors deemed the film unfit for public viewing, and no one under 18 years of age will be allowed to see it during its midnight-only screenings. That’s catnip for most horror hounds.
The original ‘Centipede’ let Six flash his not insignificant storytelling chops and a penchant for debunking horror movie tropes. That film also left us queasy, but Six shrewdly created a solid narrative to mitigate the crashing waves of bile. Here, the story limps along not unlike Martin, who needs regular blasts of inhalant just to keep his lungs clear. If only the film had a similar booster shot. We watch Martin wield a tire iron against his future centipede parts, and the effect is as bludgeoning as one could expect. By the sixth or so assault you’ll be wondering if the film has anything else to offer.
The surgery sequence should quell those concerns. Dr. Heiter used scalpels and sutures to create his centipede. Martin makes do with a staple gun, shears and, well, it’s hard to even describe the rest. Viewers should get a merit badge for staying upright through the entire surgery.
Six apparently cares little about scares, tension or any other elements that make the horror genre unlike any other. It’s all about revulsion. And on that primitive level he succeeds beyond any contemporary filmmaker with ‘[Full Sequence].’ But that hardly qualifies as art, let alone entertainment. The only redeeming value may be the film’s restrained palette. Six opted for evocative black and white film stock, saving audiences from enduring buckets of red sloshing around the screen.
It’s not hard to see glimpses of Six’s puckish nature buried under the muck and filth. The film mocks vain actresses by having one of the survivors from the first film (Ashlynne Yennie) appear here as herself, playing an actress fooled into thinking director Quentin Tarantino wants to audition her for a meaty role. It’s priceless to hear her blather on about her reasons for taking the first film. It’s the story’s medical aspects that appealed to her, she coos to a silent Martin posing as the driver hired to escort her to Tarantino’s office.
It’s tempting to scour ‘The Human Centipede 2 [Full Sequence]’ for a sense of purpose beyond a giddy need to shock. But Six’s black and white approach doesn’t stop with the film stock. Some obvious themes lie there on the surface, from the horrifying impact of sexual abuse to the notion that horror movie fans deserve everything that’s coming their way.
Those lining up to see ‘[Full Sequence]’ may indeed be asking for it. And oh, will they get it.
“The Human Centipede 2 [Full Sequence]” is in select theaters now and available via On Demand services Oct. 12.