Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)

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"Is this that perverted film you've been talking about "

Nov 5th, 2011

I'm a big fan of the original Human centipede so naturally I was pumped to see the sequel which was filming in my home town of London. Then we went thought the whole ridiculous process of the BBFC refusing to grant the film a certificate (see what I thought about that here) which failed to accomplish anything other than raise the profile of the movie further. Eventually this temporary "ban" was overturned (albeit heavily cut) which allowed me to eventually see the flick that "poses a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk that harm is likely to be caused to potential viewers" (from the mouths of the BBFC). Unfortunately for this viewer societies over reaction to a film sullied my enjoyment.

With all the attention surrounding this film there was no doubt that it was going to suffer from the overhype machine. I remember when I was younger and the scandals that surrounded the video nasties of the 80's. As kids we were all drawn to watching movies we weren't supposed to and while we were always fearful and paranoid we were going to get caught/get into trouble we all sought out and watched a few of the films off the nasties list. But the thing was while we got to spout of at school about what films we managed to get a hold of (quite the badge of courage) more often than not the flicks turned out to be absolute pants and rather disappointing.

Over the years there's always one film or another that gets a lot of attention from the media be it from violence or sex that pushes the boundaries. What fascinates me about the Human Centipede franchise is that the first film which is imaginably depraved and macabre seemed to slip under everyone's radar. It success was more to do with word of mouth as dvd copies were passed around (which is what happened at the place I worked) the phenomena reminded me when everyone forced their mates to watch the viral 2 girls 1 cup (which oddly has quite a lot in common with the centipede story). There was no disappointment because you didn't know what to expect, it was a surprise which played a large factor into why I think it worked, people catching onto the concept now seem less than impressed as the idea of the centipede is quite common knowledge.

I always knew that full sequence was going to have an uphill struggle as the idea had become played out (even South Park had an rif on the concept) and the original had concluded in the most fantastically mean place that really didn't call for a continuation. I was interested in a sequel (Tom Six the director is fantastic at building up hype such as the first teaser trailer) but I was prepared for it to be sub par which meant I'd enjoy it better (your expectations always affect your enjoyment). The overbearing coverage this cheap movie got made that an impossible task and built this film up in my mind as if this was going to be the Two Towers of a trilogy (that's a Lord of the Rings reference for all the non geeks). I could sit here and blame my expectations until I'm blue in the face and with my expectations dashed it doesn't change one simple little fact. Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) is a bad movie.

I always feel bad when I have to write a bad review for something I wanted/expected to be good. When it comes to franchise films I always feel like I'm betraying the genre by not enjoying an entry but I have to be honest.

Rather than a direct sequel Centipede 2 attempts to go Meta on our asses following a formula set by Wes Cravens New Nightmare and Blair Witch 2 – Book of Shadows (a better movie than most claim). Martin our antagonist is a fan of the original Human centipede movie and obsessively watches the film on loop desiring to one day create his own version of the centipede this time with 12 people (hence the Full Sequence sub title). Procuring a warehouse he systematically captures people going about their daily lives and prepares to satisfy his own perverse desires.

As I said before there wasn't really anywhere you could take the narrative of the original film without either a retcon of the final events or using the die hard formula of same shit different day. I admire the concept of setting this movie in the real world as it opened up a host of possibilities that could allow Tom Six to explore fan and critical reaction to his movie while serving up an entertaining yarn. Only he doesn't quite explore the new world he opened up.

Under the pretence of something larger what we are served is actually same shit different day as Martin prepares and carries out his plans. At no point is any type of message or statement attempted in any detail and what we are left with is a shell of ideas that in essence have e the potential to infuriate its target audience and the series' detractors.

Martin as a fan of the films basically is the only representation of the originals fan base. I'm not quite sure if he is meant to represent all fans but the minority of individuals that seem to take media at face value and believe what they are watching is real. By showing Martins disturbed home life and horrible upbringing perhaps Six was trying to say those affected by films are those who are already disturbed. All have potential to be explored but are glazed over. It's hard to know if Six is supportive of his fan base or outright despises them.

It's easy to say I'm over reading things but for what other purpose would this film be set in the "real" world than to draw comparisons to real life. It would have been just as easy to have made a sequel where Martin reads about the events of the first film in the paper and attempts to copy them. Too many squandered opportunities.

I've spent a lot of time talking about the potential and direction things could have taken because this film really lacks any story other than a guy making a centipede. The film can be broken down into ten minute sequences. Martin has a bad experience at home, Martine hits some people on the head with a crowbar, Martin drops them off at the warehouse. Repeat until there are enough people for centipede. It's a rather dull experience the same things happen with very little variation the only reason you continue to watch is because you want to see the carnage and eventual outcome. Only all the violence amounts to a 20minute slaughterfest followed by credits.

And here's the kicker if we don't care about the build-up and are let down by the only real draw (the 12 person centipede) whats the point of the film? There are actually a couple of moments that actually shine through and really should have been fleshed out. Martin lives at home with his abusive mother, she's the real villain mentally torturing her own son in ways you couldn't even imagine.

Martin was abused as a child by his father (I rolled my eyes at this at first too as the reasoning behind his madness) but after he was locked away mother puts all blame on her son wanting nothing more than to die along with her son. It's a complex Norman Batesesque relationship that really was a fascinating idea that is only a minimum of the run time. I wanted more of this rather than spending countless periods watching Martin bash people on the head.

Even in its cut state the film has a heap of violence but the majority is thrown at us in a final 20 minute barrage. The problem is that which its quite extreme it wasn't as shocking as I had expected.

First up unlike the original I had no care for any of the victims (loved the 3 leads in the original) as they had little screen time and amount to nothing more than next in line. Along with this they do not behave like real human beings. Each person before their capture behaves in the most appalling manner I don't know if this was intended to lessen the impact of their dismemberment and in a twisted sense justify their abuse but it felt forced. Once captured they also appeared to have given up on life aside from wriggling and moaning they make no real attempts to escape until the plot called for it at the end.

Also the violence never seemed that boundary shacking in that I'd seen far worse in the Saw franchise. I think perhaps the fact the film is released in black and white lessens the impact (although a couple of sequences have a grotesque beauty due to the filter). The majority of gore hounds are going to be sorely disappointed, the film does deliver on the vague allusions from the original but veterans to the genre are going to be left wondering what all the fuss was about. I come away thinking this was created to shock the mainstream cinema going audience that are not that knowledgeable about the genre, so odd considering this is quite a niche movie.

Another comment on the violence is that on occasion it borders on cartoon violence as victims can take clearly fatal injuries and survive yet others die from their wounds if it's part of the story. The tag on the poster is medically inaccurate in opposition to the first film this should mean we accept implausible moments of violence but it's at odds with the universe. If this is meant to be the real world why is everything so over the top where the "movie" world seems more in line with our actual reality?

I mentioned the throwaway cast but I have to commend Laurence R. Harvey in his role as Martin. Its amazing that he can show such menace and at the same time appear totally vulnerable and misunderstood. All the more impressive as he never utters a single line. Martin is the perfect counter to Dr. Heiter (antagonist from the first) who was really eloquent in his madness via his vocal reasoning. The character is interesting it's just a shame he was wasted in this iteration.

Human centipede 2 was a missed opportunity that I may have liked more had it not have been overhyped by the BBFC (where they offered a percentage of the profits?). Where the BBFC correct in wanting the film banned? No of course not every film desrves to be released uncensored even if it is atrocious. If truth be told I think they judged the film as if they were critics. It was a poor film with no message or redeaming factors , the only damage this film really could do was to its own franchise.

I still enjoy the first movie but rather than thinking of it as a masterpiece in body horror (it's all to tame to really be torture porn) from Tom Six it now seems like a fluke from someone who only set out to shock. Perhaps Mr Six will redeem himself with Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) but if he continues to try and shock rather than focusing on the plot it will be a failure much like this film. Should you watch Human Centipede 2? Of course but for no other reason than pure curiosity. I won't be revisiting this again.

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Movie Details

Movie Poster Here


Director: Tom Six
Screenplay: Tom Six
Released: 2011
Rating: 18
Starring: Laurence R. Harvey

Ashlynn Yennie