*. Believe it or not, I was prepared to like this one.
*. Why? I thought The Human Centipede (First Sequence), while heartless, cruel, and grotesque, was a reasonably well made movie with a somewhat original concept behind it. And from the trailers I saw for this one I thought it looked like it was going in an interesting new direction.
*. Well, it did head in an interesting new direction. I give Tom Six full credit for not just following up with more of the same but instead trying to do something very different. I just don’t think it worked.
*. Not all of what is different was the result of creative decisions made by Six. Most significantly, the film wasn’t shot in black-and-white. It was shot in colour and then changed to black-and-white, according to some sources as a way of placating censors. I’m not sure this worked (it had all kind of problems getting rated anyway), and I’m not sure why it would have worked. Are censors that easily fooled?
*. For what it’s worth, I’ve also heard Six say that he wanted to use black-and-white so as to “take off the edges of the gore” and make the movie scarier. I’m not sure what the correct story is.
*. I mentioned in my notes on the first film that I didn’t think Six wrote good dialogue. Maybe he just isn’t comfortable with the language. His English strikes me as passable but not perfectly fluent. In any event he decided to do most of this movie without any dialogue at all and this should have been a plus. Six does have a great eye and sense of space, and in Laurence R. Harvey, who plays Martin Lomax, he had the perfect round mound of putty for his camera to mold into a grotesque, screen-filling presence embodying the nadir of dysfunction and inadequacy. Does Martin really need to say anything? Probably not.
*. In addition to the lack of dialogue, the use of black-and-white, and the unique villain (or anti-hero) of the piece, there are also some other interesting avenues the film could have gone down. The perils of obsessive fandom, for example, or the meta-film angle that brings Ashlynn Yennie back, playing herself. Something could have been done with this. So all-in-all, you can see why I had my hopes up, just a bit.
*. I was let down. Six just doesn’t seem to me to be a filmmaker who is interested in ideas, or telling a story, or people in general. He’s also not interested, at least in this film, in building suspense or trying to scare people. Instead, he’s content to disgust us. This he achieves, but only while boring us at the same time.
*. The first movie, for all its bad reputation, was actually pretty clean, achieving more by way of suggestion. Dr. Heiter, for example, describes the operation in some detail, but we don’t see much of it being performed aside from some surgical lines being drawn and a couple of teeth being pulled. This “full sequence,” however, doubles down on the gross stuff. Apparently Six thought he’d let his fans down by not showing enough blood and shit the first time out so he wanted to make up for it.
*. Speaking of blood and shit, Six has said that showing the explosions of shit in colour, as splashes of brown, was an homage to Schindler’s List. I wonder if anyone’s told Spielberg. Now there’s a reaction video I’d like to see.
*. I didn’t realize (real) centipedes were such nasty creatures. But perhaps they’re being falsely represented here.
*. Again we have the conflation of sex and violence, or torture porn. Martin is shown masturbating while watching the first film, and later rapes the end segment of his centipede (after wrapping his cock in barb wire, in the uncut version). We understand that Martin was sexually abused by his father, and by his psychiatrist, but I’m still not sure what sort of point Six wants to make with this.
*. It’s odd that this movie presents the first film as a fantasy that Martin tries to recreate in reality. I say odd because the effect is exactly the opposite. The Full Sequence is far less realistic: “100% medically inaccurate” and set in a kind of Eraserhead universe. It’s hard to believe for a minute that Martin would be managing to pull all of this off, and perhaps in the end he wasn’t. It may all be his revenge fantasy.
*. Perhaps it’s for this reason I didn’t find it nearly as disturbing as the first movie, despite being far more graphic. I didn’t buy any of it. The Human Centipede had its moments, but was just depressing in the end. The sequel doesn’t even rise to that level.
*. I did like how Martin, who is obviously useless at doing anything, has to fall back on duct tape and a staple gun to make his centipede. These two items are the all-purpose handyman’s tools for people who aren’t handy and don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to fixing things (I speak from experience).
*. In at least one regard, however, Martin’s use of tools led to another failure of my suspension of disbelief. If you keep braining people with a crowbar you’re going to kill them, not knock them out. Here they get a bit of duct tape on their foreheads for a band-aid and they’re good to go.
*. Harvey is great as Lomax, but there’s only so much you can do with such a character and there’s nothing else to the film but him. Things get repetitive early as Martin just keeps beating his victims senseless in the parking garage and then takes them back to his warehouse-cum-abattoir. The final third of the movie is only mindless cruelty and gore, without a hint of suspense, shock, or horror.
*. I mentioned in my notes on the first film that I didn’t think Six did its reputation any favours with the sequels. In at least one sense, however, I guess he did. Watching this movie had the effect of making me like the first movie more. In much the same way, The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence) makes this one look good. It’s like shit rolling downhill . . .