How do you follow-up one of the most shocking and original horror movies of all time? Is it even possible to make a movie that’s more disturbing than The Human Centipede? Well, I’ll save you the suspense….yes, it most certainly fucking is! Once again I enter the astoundingly twisted world of writer/director Tom Six to see how The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence stacks up against the ground-breaking original.
In the world of this film the first Human Centipede is just a fictional movie, one that Martin (Laurence R. Harvey), the mentally challenged parking attendant in a London garage happens to be obsessed with. When he isn’t busy jacking off with sandpaper while he watches it or feeding his pet centipede he likes to spend his time brutalizing garage patrons with a crowbar and putting them in the back of his van. Once collected, the unfortunate (that’s an understatement to say the least) victims are brought to his secluded warehouse so he can live out his greatest fantasy, creating a human centipede of his very own.
Before I get into this I just want to mention that I am always a big supporter of watching the completely uncut versions of films. Unfortunately, Netflix really decided to fuck over streaming viewers and only provides a censored cut. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still horrific but some key scenes were removed without any indication to the viewer that this is not the full version. Apparently, the Blu-ray features the fully uncut version so if you are inclined to watch it, I recommend getting that.
Alright, so the first film got a lot of mileage simply from the fact that it was a truly original concept with a plot so horrifying that many people cringed at the very mention of the title. Since the concept is no longer original the only logical thing Tom Six could do is go bigger and badder with the central idea, which is exactly what he does. All the dark, disturbing imagery from the first is brought back and cranked up to 11. The sheer level of graphic brutality on display is astonishing and this is without a doubt one of the most shocking and disturbing films ever made, making the original pale by comparison.
Beyond the gore though, there are also some very bold and interesting choices with how the film itself is constructed. The most notable of these is naturally the choice to make the film black and white. There has been a lot of online speculation that Six was forced to present it in this way due to it’s graphic content but in a 2011 interview with wegotthiscovered.com he clearly states that this was an artistic choice to make the film feel darker and more uncomfortable. The gamble pays off and the film not only takes on an even more grim, desolate tone but also differentiates itself from the style and feel of the original.
I also thought it was a bold and interesting choice to make the protagonist a fan of the original film who is inspired to do violent, horrible acts that emulate what he sees in it. With this, Six is really taking the unfounded argument made by so many people that violence in art causes real-world violence head-on rather than side-stepping or apologizing for it. Bolder still, he makes the villain the protagonist of the film this time, a reversal from the original, putting us squarely in the front seat of this twisted ride, unable to deny our own voyeuristic part in the acts we are witnessing.
This also plays into the wish fulfillment aspect of the film as Martin, who is both physically and mentally weak, is able to violently dominate anyone he chooses. I’m sure it’s also no coincidence that most, if not all, of the people he assaults have been rude, mean or violent towards him in some way. It’s artistic choices like this that make the viewer confront their own sick, violent nature which is perhaps the most unsettling part of all.
In conclusion, this is not a film to be underestimated or dismissed as mindless shock value. I can’t say the story is particularly complex or deep but the film takes the series exactly where it needed to go and creates a glorious, uncompromising vision and reminds us that horror is supposed to be horrifying.