Fantastic Fest Review: Tom Six's 'Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)'
by Jeremy Kirk
September 23, 2011
This is going to be a truncated review for The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) to kick off our Fantastic Fest coverage. It's not because there's nothing that can be said about the follow-up to one of the more talked about horror films of recent memory. It's because this sequel neither needs nor deserves 1000 words analyzing what it is, what it has to say, and how it's all executed. Tom Six, the Dutch returning writer/director, didn't feel like he shocked moviegoers enough with the 2009 film. The idea of a mad scientist surgically connecting three people ass-to-mouth-to-ass-to-mouth apparently didn't go far enough.
But that seems to be what some people liked about The Human Centipede (First Sequence), the idea that horrible things were going on, but you didn't see them full-force. The horrible things in the original film were hidden by framing and probably an undersized budget that didn't allow for the grotesque.
All of that goes out the window with The Human Centipede 2, a film set in our world where The Human Centipede is a film and our villain this time around, Martin, played by Laurence R. Harvey, is disturbingly drawn to it. Martin is not a mentally capable human being. He spends his nights as a parking garage attendant, watching the monitors from around the garage on one screen and his favorite film on another, jotting notes and collecting news items from The Human Centipede in his scrapbook. It isn't long into the movie before we realize Martin plans to create his own human centipede, one that will put Dr. Heiter to shame in terms of ambition but without the added benefit of having any idea of how the human body works.
It's in Martin where Human Centipede 2 finds its first advantage over the original. Six is gifted at crafting disgusting villains and casting them perfectly. The background and motivation he gives Martin is far more interesting than the mad scientist one-dimensionality of Dr. Heiter. Martin is a character whose world has turned against him. Everything in it from his father, to his mother, to the doctor who visits their home, has molded him into this deranged and mentally unstable character, the kind of character who would attempt to reenact the more horrific moments of his favorite horror flick. Essentially, everyone who comes into contact with Martin has shit on him, and he finds his way to turn the tides and have them shit back on themselves.
Yes, that statement was disgusting, but it's apropos for a film like Human Centipede 2, whose last hour is a prolonged graphic depiction of everything we've almost seen before, a film that chafes, attempts to chafe like sand paper, and doesn't give a damn if it cuts too deep. There is no such thing as "too deep" when it comes to how much Six wants to cut his audience, and that idea of fandom, that he realizes how sick the people who love his first movie are and wants to give them everything they desire, could almost be seen as clever. But when it comes in the form of horribly vivid imagery - all shot in rather beautiful black and white, another notch in this film's plus category - that adds very little substance in and of itself, the word enabler can't help but be brought up. With the abused background he gives Martin, Six seems to be washing his hands of the power his films have, that sick movies don't make sick people, they just give sick people sick ideas.
Maybe that was his reasoning for turning everything up to its loudest in Human Centipede 2, to become so deafening that what it might have to say isn't even audible. The shock for shock's sake is certainly on display, and if the Fantastic Fest crowd was any indicator, that level of shock was pleasing to some. For a few it delivered what they wanted, much more of the same only more drawn out and... ahem... more in your face. For the rest of us, though, it's safe to say The Human Centipede 2 can eat shit.
*Note: Yes, I know I said this was going to be short. Sometimes you just can't stop yourself. Ask Tom Six about that.
Jeremy's Fantastic Fest Rating: 3 out of 10