Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) [film review]

Limited theatrical release in October 2011; now available on DVD, Blu-ray, and video-on-demand
Hands down, The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) is the most vile and unsettling film I've ever seen, and I am by no means a prude. You can't say I wasn't warned - its predecessor, The Human Centipede (First Sequence), upped the ante in the torture porn genre with a premise involving a mad scientist who abducts three people and surgically sews them mouth-to-anus with each other, leaving the trio with just one digestive tract. Where the hell do you go from there? Apparently, a lot further. Despite my normal disinterest in these Saw-types of movies (and horrors in general), the first Human Centipede had a twisted, novel concept that made for an interesting movie, but not a terribly well-done one. Still, there was just enough there to plant the seeds of interest as to where Dutch filmmaker Tom Six would take its followup. Ohhh, that my scarred eyes could now unsee what perverse sickness Six hath cinematically wrought.
The only good thing I can say about The Human Centipede 2 is the on-the-nose casting of screen newcomer Laurence R. Harvey, a 50ish British performance artist. Both Harvey and his "Martin" character are the epitome of creepiness (as this photo will attest), with bulging eyes, greasy hair, bad teeth, and obese body. And as if his physical repugnance wasn't enough, Martin is also saddled with an asthmatic wheeze, some sort of mental handicap stemming from every kind of abuse from his now-incarcerated father, and a lifetime of emotional abuse from his constantly nagging mother, who he still lives with in a dingy London flat. It's the sort of character background composition that feels right off a "damaged movie character 101" checklist. Harvey has zero heavy lifting to do as far as remembering dialogue - he speaks no words, only grunting, whimpering, and occasionally cackling maniacally. Martin works as a security guard at a parking garage, where he occupies his time by watching The Human Centipede over and over on his laptop. Yes, that first time around was apparently just a movie; Six's meta concept isn't nearly as clever as he'd probably like to think it is, though. Eventually, Martin snaps and actually starts implementing the movie's ideas, which he's been studiously detailing in a scrapbook. The goal? To "Frankenstein" together a human centipede made up of four times as many people as was seen in the inspirational source. The parking garage acts as a victim supply pipeline - a handful of the guinea pigs are just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but most of them are unpleasant people who rub Martin the wrong way. As an extension of the meta concept, one of the victims includes actress Ashlynn Yennie, who appeared in the first film and plays herself here. I genuinely felt sorry for her, as she once again ends up naked on screen with her mouth sewn to someone else's asshole. Ms. Yennie, please fire your agent.
The Human Centipede 2 made headlines upon its theatrical release last year when it was banned in Australia and the UK (one of only 11 films ever to be banned by British film censors in the last 100 years). Six must have been ecstatic at the free marketing boost the controversy generated for the movie, which was always intended to primarily be a home video release. 32 cuts totalling 2:37 eventually allowed it to be released on DVD, Blu-ray, and video-on-demand in the U.K. The version I saw had all the gore included, including highly disturbing scenes involving a character pleasuring himself with sandpaper, teeth being knocked out with a hammer, scatological trauma, and a birth scene that goes for a payoff so unbelievably wretched you won't believe it. Six is unable to rein in his button-pushing instincts, leaving The Human Centipede 2 as little more than an orgy of sadism that can't disguise the fact it's also really just a super-sized copy of the original. The filmmaker also makes the questionable decision to present the movie in black and white, presumably aiming for a measure of artistic credibility. And God help us all - The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) is now in pre-production.
Rating: F