Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence confronts the audience directly: “Did you want to see shit splattered on the screen? Did you want to see the details of the surgery? Well here it is - and what kind of a sick fuck are you for wanting to see this?”
Director Tom Six has returned with a giant fuck you movie - saying fuck you to the fans of the first Human Centipede, fuck you to the detractors and, probably, fuck you to IFC, who is stuck distributing a movie that lives up to the grotesque promise of the first film in the most explicit way.
This time it’s meta. Martin is a bug of a man, round like a beetle with huge, bulging eyes. He’s Peter Lorre working the dead shift at a parking garage, where he spends his hours obsessing over the movie Human Centipede. Finally he begins to create the ultimate fan fiction - a human centipede of his own, except this one is 12 people long. And includes one of the actresses from the film, tricked into coming to London to audition for a phony Tarantino movie.
Martin is a direct parody of the fans. He’s fat and sweaty and awkward and possibly mentally disabled. He’s also a parody of how the detractors see the fans. He’s malleable and unable to tell reality from fantasy. And worst of all he’s motivated to take matters into his own hands to bring his fantasy to life, the exact cliche of what all anti-violence groups think of horror fans.
Six is attempting a level of critique that’s impressive, and the film feels like a response to every single review and editorial written about the first Centipede. While the idea of an answer film working at this height - and I do believe it’s a height, and I do believe that Six is smart and fully aware of every single thing he’s doing - is exciting, the film itself sags under the weight of attempting to deliver a thesis. The second act is a repetitive series of scenes with Martin capturing people, all in the same location and all in the same way.
But then again that’s also part of the point. While The Human Centipede 2 works as a critique of the furor surrounding the original, it also works as a critique of sequels in general. It’s technically the same again, but MORE. Everything is taken up a notch, more horrific and more grotesque. And it also works as a critique of fan fiction, where the super fan takes the property and makes it their own but misses everything that is at the soul of it, loses every aspect of what made the original special or work.
Still, the second act drags before turning into as extreme as a movie as I’ve ever seen. Six is actively trying to break as many taboos as he can in the third act, and he’s literally rubbing our faces in it - blood and shit splatter on the lens. Everything you heard about the movie is true. The sandpaper masturbation, the barbed wire rape, the horrific extraction of teeth. And there’s more - Human Centipede 2 reaches levels of mean spirited, ugly gore I haven’t seen in decades. All of it lovingly rendered in actually very lovely black and white photography. There’s an incredible disconnect between the splatter and nastiness on display and the art gallery look of the film. Where Human Centipede 1 was surprisingly sterile and static Human Centipede 2 is gritty and grimy and covered in scum.
The film is not one filled with great performances, but new villain Martin, played by non-actor Laurence R. Harvey delivers a turn that doesn’t quite rival the delectable insanity of Dieter Laser’s Dr. Heiter but carves out his own creepy niche. Martin is mute, responding only through his huge eyes and occasional bouts of weeping or rage. And what’s worse, he is us - when Martin forces his centipede to shit using a huge amount of laxative he giggles at the sight, just as the audience does.
Human Centipede 2 leaves nothing to the imagination. Tom Six is engaging in a punk rock backlash against his own film, a kick in the face of every expectation you might have… while fulfilling every thing you thought the first film would be. Depraved and disgusting but intellectually active, The Human Centipede 2 never fully coheres as a movie but works incredibly as a screed of cultural critique.