Bounty Films // 2011 // 88 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // November 21st, 2011
"He keeps on talking about a centipede, with twelve people! What can that mean?"
Tom Six's The Human Centipede caused something of a stir in 2010, with its story of a mad scientist surgically joining three people, ass to mouth, in an attempt to form a single digestive system. What many of the reviews at the time failed to point out -- usually because they overreacted to its supposed graphic nature -- was that it is actually a rather boring picture.
Fast-forward to the present day, and Six has really gone and outdone himself, just as he promised. The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) (Region 2) surpasses its predecessor in the blood and poop department to such an extent that it received a total ban by the BBFC. Hell, even A Serbian Film got through with cuts.
However, thanks to a successful appeal by Bounty Films and Eureka Entertainment, who are responsible for distributing the film in the UK, the BBFC relented, and -- following two minutes worth of cuts -- The Human Centipede 2 has been deemed suitable for public consumption.
The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) opens with the closing moments of the original movie. As the credits begin to roll, the camera pans out to reveal the film playing on the laptop of Martin (Laurence R. Harvey), a social pariah who has developed an unhealthy obsession with director Tom Six's cult horror movie. Along with his book containing memorabilia from the movie, Martin has a journal documenting his plans to create a human centipede of his own; to this end, Martin has already started collecting victims. Working as a security guard at a twenty-four-hour parking garage affords Martin the chance to isolate and kidnap individuals thanks to his video surveillance system -- and studious use of his trusty crowbar.
Martin's plan is to surpass the work of Dr. Heiter in The Human Centipede and create a twelve-person centipede. Not only that, but his piece de resistance is to be the inclusion of actress Ashlynn Yennie, star of the original movie, in his vile experiment.
The plot of The Human Centipede 2 suggests writer-director Tom Six is attempting something interesting with this horror sequel. By having his protagonist be an obsessed fan of the original The Human Centipede, it hints at an exploration of the effects of screen violence on the viewer, rather than just another exercise in shock horror. Sadly, though the opening 20 minutes or so do hint at additional depth to the film, The Human Centipede 2 is really only interested in going all out to make you wretch.
Split into two distinct segments, the first half of The Human Centipede 2 deals with Martin's mission to amass the twelve victims he needs if he is to be successful in creating his own centipede. When he's not shooting people in the foot, or smashing a crowbar over the heads of pregnant women (yep, you read that correctly), we get a little insight into what has caused Martin's psychosis. We learn that Martin was sexually abused as a child by a now absent father, something his mother openly resents her son for. Talking of mom, the apparent lack of maternal instincts has resulted in her son being a social outcast with a penchant for masturbating with sandpaper wrapped around his member and a tendency to regularly soil his bed sheets.
If Six was really out to deconstruct the horror movie and its affects, this would have been the time to do it, but that was never really his intention, and the opening 40 minutes is really all just build up to the main event. The second half of The Human Centipede 2 is an orgy of violence and excrement, and it's probably only right of me to advise those of a more nervous disposition to avoid the movie at all costs. Unlike the original movie, The Human Centipede 2 doesn't shy away from reveling in the gore, and little is left to the imagination even in this BBFC-approved cut.
The list of atrocities committed in the film ranges from the nasty (hammer-assisted dental work), the painful (victims tongue ripped out with a pair of pliers), to the comical (laxative induced, mass defecation). However, as nasty as it may all sound, it's really no more than longtime horror fans won't have seen already. Six infuses his film with a dark sense of humor, but whether it be Martin's over exuberance to see his centipede empty its bowels -- which he attempts to encourage by blowing raspberries -- or the good doctor whom Martin's mother calls upon to help her son's mental problems, who is later revealed to be a sexual deviant with a fixation on Martin's backside, the humor is pretty lowbrow and lacking in intelligence.
Laurence R. Harvey delivers an effective performance as Martin, in what is the actor's first role. Despite not uttering a single word, he capitalizes on his unique appearance and mannerisms to sell the hatred that wells inside him.
The most damning problem with the movie is the total lack of connection to the victims. Beyond the basic empathy one has towards his fellow man, the fates that befalls Martin's twelve victims are really only ever an exercise in gore. Herein lies the problem. Despite what could be an interesting premise for a truly disturbing horror movie that has something to say, this slice of meta fiction works only on a purely visceral level. It is a notable improvement on its predecessor -- though that's not saying much -- but is really nothing more than the latest example of extreme cinema at best, and at worst a minor footnote in the horror genre. This is -- and I don't think Mr. Six will disagree with me here -- a film whose sole purpose is to shock. On that level it is perhaps a success, though I can't help but feel that, at least in its current form, its edges have been blunted somewhat. Much like the original, the film's premise leaves Six with nowhere to go with the narrative once the centipede has been created, and so opts, inevitably, to end The Human Centipede 2 with a notable increase in the level of violence, which seems to show a preference for anal trauma. There are a few distasteful moments, but the bizarre turns during the final act are often so ridiculous that they are more likely to illicit sniggers rather than screams. The film at least moves along at a decent pace, though beyond the initial shock factor has little to suggest many will demand repeat viewings. Where Six goes from here with next year's final installment in the trilogy is anyone's guess.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer is immediately striking due to Six's decision to shoot the film in black-and white. Setting aside the suspicion that this decision was made to help his film get passed the censors, it actually results in a aesthetically pleasing film. Six has delivered a suitably gritty looking horror, and the DVD presentation reflects this well. The picture is sharp, and black levels are excellent. The 5.1 soundtrack features minimal dialogue, but what little there is can be hear loud and clear. The impressive effects work also makes decent use of the full 5.1 setup.
Onto the supplemental material, and writer-director Tom Six kicks things off with a discussion on his inspiration for developing a sequel to The Human Centipede, offering an insight into the decisions behind the chosen direction of the film. Along with discussions on casting and some of the stylistic choices made, Six also mentions his little "homage" to Schindler's List that most people will probably miss, or find extremely offensive. For fans of the film's, Six also offers a few tidbits on the final part of the trilogy, The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence). "Foley Session" reveals how the sound effects for the rape scene were created, just for those curious folk out there; you know who you are. A deleted scene is included, as well as a "Behind the Scenes." This short (9 minutes) featurette offers a look at the practical effects work, including a plethora of fake posteriors, along with Six offering direction to his lead. Finally, the film's trailer is included.
With plenty already written about the content of the film, you already know whether you're going to watch The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) or not, and so any summary here is most likely futile. So instead of providing a closing statement, allow me a small rant, if you'd be so kind.
With the likes of the A Serbian Film, the remake of I Spit on your Grave, and now this, The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequencee), people really seem to be getting their knickers in a twist over the extremities to which the horror genre has gone to in recent years. I fully understand, and respect, anyone who chooses not to watch these movies. What I can't understand are the (in my opinion) ridiculous reactions some have to movies like this, whether they've seen the film or not. First of all, there are the people who, despite reading all the warnings, go and watch the movies and then get upset by the content. Frankly, you've no one but yourself to blame. Then there are the people who, usually after reading sensationalized stories in the tabloid press, hold up these films as an example of the fall of Western society -- despite not actually watching the film for themselves. Regardless, why is anyone getting so upset over a film? I love movies, and the horror genre is especially dear to me, but it's make-believe. I suggest that if you are getting so distressed over fiction like The Human Centipede 2, you quit watching movies for a while and take a look at the real horrors going on in the world -- i.e: things that really matter -- and then, perhaps, we can all put violent horror movies into perspective. Remember, "It's only a movie."
Come on, you already know the answer.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Bounty Films
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Unrated