Life’s a gas – The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence review

The Human Centipede 2: Full SequenceStarring Laurence R. Harvey and Ashlynn Yennie. Directed by Tom Six. Rated R. By Simon Miraudo.

The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence has just completed a tour of exclusive late-night screenings across the country. It arrives on DVD and Blu-ray in Australia February 23, 2012 (pending a review of its R18+ rating by the classification board on November 28, 2011).

From Oedipus the King, to Dante’s Inferno, to Titus Andronicus, to The 120 Days of Sodom and its adaptation Salo; there is a long lineage of great texts regarding the poetry of human (and inhuman) suffering. Director Tom Six would like his Human Centipede films – in which strangers are abducted and operated on until they share a single gastrological tract – to be a part of that disturbed family tree. It’s hard to take them seriously however when they have this many fart noises. Instead, they’ll probably be best remembered for their creative poster art and evocative, flatulent sound design. But not all is lost. Perhaps the Academy will recognise the achievements of these debased motion pictures in their always-lenient technical categories (remember, the similarly-depraved Norbit was a recent Best Makeup nominee).

The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence actually employs a rather novel concept. The first flick ended with dirty Dr. Heiter dead and the unlucky middle-section of the ‘pede (Ashlynn Yennie) surgically trapped between a rock and a hard place (and that’s seriously understating her predicament). THC2 shatters the fourth wall and opens with creepy parking garage security guard Martin (Laurence R. Harvey) watching Six’s picture on an endless loop. Suitably inspired, Martin begins to collect unwitting victims (including American actress Yennie, tricked into visiting him in London with the promise of an audition for Tarantino) and plots the creation of a multiple-person-monstrosity of his own. His ambition is even bolder than Dr. Heiter’s, as he wants to craft a human centipede four times as large. Yep, that’s 12 people long. Still, his ‘operation style’ leaves a lot to be desired. Unsterilised medical instruments are one thing, but his staple gun really raises some hygiene concerns.

Don’t blame Martin for his nuttiness though! As we’re regularly reminded, he was sexually abused by his father as a child, is being sexually abused by his therapist as an adult, has to fend off murderous attacks from his mother, and the horrific images from Tom Six’s movie are warping his already sadistic mind. Full Sequence could be considered an interesting counterpart to Gus van Sant‘s Elephant, which also examined the many possible inspirations and inciting incidents for an extreme act of violence. But what The Human Centipede 2 lacks in the subtlety of van Sant’s film, it makes up with scenes of genital mutilation.

The Human Centipede 2 is in black-and-white; I assume the sole reason is because blood looks cool when it oozes like pitch black oil. Maybe there’s more to it. Maybe the way in which the so-called reality of Full Sequence is depicted in black-and-white as opposed to the colour of the “fictional” original is meant to comment on the way viewers accept cinematic horrors but abhor those same acts when committed in real life. Or not. The blood looks cool regardless.

Harvey is game and perfectly repugnant as Martin, while Yennie is a good sport (yet again) with her self-effacing turn. And Six should be applauded somewhat for the way in which he manages to one-up himself over and over again. Considering the heights of grotesqueness reached early on in the flick, the way in which the stakes are continually raised comes as a pleasant (or should that be totally unpleasant?) surprise. Whereas the original Human Centipede shied away from blood and surgical operations, THC2 revels in it, finding more and more horrible ways to torture its 12-part eyesore. That being said, the film is never more repulsive than when it’s extolling the virtues of the picture that has come before it. Even I, a fan of the first flick, found it hard to believe anyone would be as outrageously compelled or repelled by it as the characters in this film are.

I maintain The Human Centipede is an audience-baiting satire along the lines of Michael Haneke‘s Funny Games, making us question what it is we want out of film and what we want out of art; a Marina Abramovic-esque experiment that invites the audience to impart meaning on its gore-tastic series of tableaus. The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence is none of those things, but it’s mighty gruesome, and will no doubt silence the critics who had hoped the last one would be grislier. It’s less interesting as a result, but the visceral experience is undeniable.

3/5

Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence has just completed a tour of exclusive late-night screenings across the country. It arrives on DVD and Blu-ray in Australia February 23, 2012 (pending a review of its R18+ rating by the classification board on November 28, 2011).

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