For a movie about a mad scientist that sews people into a living chain from mouth-to-anus, writer-director Tom Six’s The Human Centipede is surprisingly restrained. It’s conceptually disturbing and graphic, but not explicitly so. And if that film bothered you, then run for your life. The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) craps all over the first film’s retroactive good taste by going all out and cramming in as many unpleasantries as possible into every nook and cranny of the film. It’s not just graphic; it’s contemptuous.
To his credit, Six has found another weirdo who can hold the screen like Dieter Laser (Dr. Heiter in the original). Here, Lawrence Harvey plays Martin, a grotesque combination of Peter Lorre, Batman nemesis The Penguin, and Francois Hadji-Lazaro’s Gnaghi from Cemetery Man. He’s a night watchman for a parking garage, who spends his time watching The Human Centipede DVD on his laptop, masturbating, soiling himself, and dreaming of the day he can create his own super-sized human centipede that will put the fictional one to shame.
Yes, this is one of those movies; one in which the actions take place in the “real” world, and not in a cinematic one. Even Ashlynn Yennie, the actress who played one of the ill-fated segments from the original Centipede, shows up playing herself as a character in this sequel. One film into the franchise, and Tom Six is already creating his own version of New Nightmare -- a boldly self-centered reboot, before there even needed to be one.
Except, this is a fictional movie we’re watching, and because of that, Six should’ve paid better attention to the nitpicky details that can derail an experience that’s supposed to be totally real. For example, we understand how staple guns work in the real world; they’re not permanently binding. We have a general understanding of psychiatry and the doctor/patient relationship; Six’s idea of how psychiatrists behave is so childishly ignorant as to be laughable. There are even bigger quibbles than these that start to get into territory that probably reveals too much of the plot (such as there is). There’s just a lot of truly dumb stuff in here. Six’s answer to these criticisms is to wave a narrative magic wand at the end of the film that manages to make the entire movie irrelevant. Again, contemptuous.
Because why should anyone have to sit through this much human suffering, putrid gore, and hateful ideas for no discernible reward? Six displays a great amount of disdain for horror fans, while celebrating his own exceptionally vile imagination -- like it’s okay to think this stuff up, but not okay to watch it. “You wanted more? You got it. Oh, and by the way, you’re all disgusting, perverted slobs.” Someone should let Six know that exploitation cinema is just about the worst possible place for finger-wagging.
Audiences typically don’t enjoy being indicted for their interest in a film, and The Human Centipede 2 manages to stick its nose in the air, above a cesspool of its own creation. It’s the sequel that’s better than you are, because you forced it to happen. To Tom Six, his audience is Martin. That attitude seems to reveal that Six doesn’t even understand his own talents well enough to know what made the first film palatable. It’s also quite possible Six doesn’t understand much of anything at all, except how to turn stomachs. Human Centipede 2 makes Human Centipede feel like it happened by accident.