Have you ever wished that someone else had an idea instead of the person that had it? Has there ever been a time where you’ve recognized real genius trapped in a mind unable to execute it to its full glory? If there were ever a moment like that in the movie world, it was Human Centipede, and with Human Centipede 2, writer/director Tom Six has proven that his inspired idea of a horror villain who sews his victims ass to mouth should have popped into the head of a writer/director who knew thing one about writing or directing.
As if there were doubts, Mr. Six is in love with the movie he made. This love is so powerful that he felt the need to share it in this sequel which features a squatted lump of a man watching Six’s previous film many, many, many times during what has to be called “the story” despite it never earning a title as lofty as that. And it’s not just scenes from the first movie that get replayed in self-stroke mode – it’s the credits too. That’s right, friends. It’s no exaggeration to say that the credits for Human Centipede roll at least four times during Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence). If you can, just try to imagine filmmaking more riveting than watching a guy watch movie credits.
In the movie, a psychologically disturbed Martin (Laurence R. Harvey) is obsessed with the first Human Centipede film so much that he has designs to make his own DIY version with victims he finds while working as a parking garage security guard. “The story” is a sequence of him having that singular goal and spending what feels like 8 or 9 hours of runtime completing it despite not having anything standing in his way.
There lies the core of the real failure of the movie. There’s no movie there. It’s an idea that hasn’t been formed into anything, and certainly doesn’t demand cameras rolling or the hour and a half it takes up. It’s a zero act structure where a guy watches a movie, hits someone with a crowbar, drags them to a warehouse, and repeats that until he has twelve bodies writhing around inside with their hands tied with what must be the strongest duct tape product on the market. There is literally nothing stopping him, and without that, there’s never any tension or reason to care about the repetition. It feels wholly like Six had no ideas for a sequel besides sewing more asses to mouths.
Granted, there are scenes with Martin at home, coughing and wandering around a lot while his mother (Vivien Bridson) spits venom at him for getting her husband arrested on molestation charges (that the unseen man seems guilty of). It’s a spark of life in a black hole that’s unfortunately written so dumbly that it makes for some of the funniest encounters of the film instead of the most grisly. As it stands, this is the cinematic version of watching someone on an assembly line build something you’d never buy anyway.
The one side arm of the main goal is to get the actor/centipedes from the first film to come to London so that he can (you guessed it) hit them with a crowbar, drag them to the warehouse and watch the credits roll sew them ass to mouth. Despite never speaking in the film, he manages to trick Ashlynn Yennie to fly across the world to be picked up by a creepy-looking guy who doesn’t talk. He does this all solely by listening to voice mail messages and never calling anyone back.
That stunning feat aside, Martin is the opposite of the first film’s villain. If Dr. Heiter was Hannibal Lecter, Martin is a rock with diabetes. He’s grotesque to look at, and his mannerisms are disturbing. He’s still basically unbelievable as a threat though. A gun helps, but like the first film, there are innumerable times for his victims to fight back or escape and instead they decide to writhe around a bunch (which turns out to be ineffective as a means of defense). As far as the suspension of disbelief in general, Six takes a mile without giving an inch.
On the positive side, the gore is a marked improvement from its predecessor. There’s real violence here, whether it comes in the form of teeth meeting a hammer, ACLs being snipped, or a wondrously brutalized corpse. There’s also a more fulfilling centipede because the sterile version is replaced by a wriggling mass of flesh and tape. Unfortunately, none of it matters. It’s a sizzle reel of effects work parading as a real movie.
To some degree, with its black and white saturation and padded shots, it’s a bit like the art house meeting the outhouse. It’s a genre film to be certain, but it feels like it was made from a Freshman at NYU Film School who thinks he’s the first person to make a horror movie. It’s the height of pretension and indulgence – so much so that it’s striking to note that a scene where a guy is masturbating isn’t the biggest clue that the work is masturbatory. The cause of all this, again, is that there’s simply no reason for any of the scenes to exist. This is the kind of movie that’s so utterly unnecessary that it might spark a wave of discussion from people so starved for any sign of competency amidst the rubble that they begin a self-fulfilling search for a deeper meaning that isn’t really there. The emperor has no clothes here, and his mouth is stapled to a tattooed man’s asshole. Looking for a poetic truth or a subtextual message here is like hearing a trash compactor and calling it Socrates.
In short, it’s trash.
Boring, insipid, wandering, pointless, unnecessary, plodding, shrug-worthy, self-milking, moronic. That is, unless you love watching guys watch movie credits and repeat the same task over and over until he shows off his ability to squirt fake feces through a high-end special effects butt. Had the film started with him dragging in his last victim, it wouldn’t have changed anything other than making it shorter. As insane as it is to say, at least the first film attempted to tell a story. Here, Six and company have thrown their hands in the air and accepted defeat on that front. It might as well have been an adaptation of the Faces of Death clips.
All that said, the worst condemnation that the film earns is that it made me (and at least one other person) actively hate movies and filmmaking for a short while after seeing it. No kidding. It’s the kind of movie that makes you sad the artform exists.
Is there anything worse than that?
The Upside: Better effects that are nullified by a film that’s merely an idea instead of a full script or, hell, even a first draft.
The Downside: It’s pornographically rendered garbage that’s an exhausting chore to sit through.
On the Side: Another negative review like this will inevitably stoke the fires for people to see it, but I want to make it clear that it’s not negative because the movie is “too gross” or “so crazy disturbing!”. It’s because it’s dull as a paper weight with even less purpose. I know this isn’t trivia, so for those who demand it: did you know that if someone duct tapes your hands behind your back, even if you’re alone in a warehouse for two days, you’ll never be able to get free? It’s true!
Final Grade: Waiting on Neil to make an “F-” image.