CINEMA The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)
Director Tom Six is back to make you squirm with The Human Centipede (Full Sequence). The second instalment in his ‘torture porn’ franchise makes the first film look like a walk in the park. Initially refusing to give it a classification, the BBFC have finally rated the film an 18; allowing fans of the first film and other daring cinema-goers to experience Tom Six’s gory shocker. A word of advice: don’t eat anything several hours prior to seeing the film, and bring a sick bucket. Just in case.
Full Sequence’s plot is self-referential; opening with the closing scenes of the first film and then pulling back to reveal Martin (Laurence R. Harvey), a creepy security guard, watching it on his computer screen. An overweight, bulging-eyed and squat asthmatic, Martin lives with his spiteful mother and dreams of creating his own centipede. But not just any centipede, a twelve-person centipede; dwarfing the size of the one in the first film. Haunted by his own traumatic childhood, Martin obsesses over Tom Six’s film; keeping a scrapbook with stills from the film and diagrams of how to create the centipede.
Martin goes on a rampage, hunting and kidnapping people from the underground car park where he works. He also contacts three of the actors who starred in the first film, posing as a casting director to lure them into the warehouse which he has purchased for his experiments. The rest of the film is dedicated to Martin constructing the centipede and making his darkest fantasies and dreams become a sick reality…
Six shoots his film in black-and-white, giving each shot a dark and haunting atmosphere. The decision to shoot in black-and-white is a bold one, as he risks the film gaining an air of pretention – but it works. Every shadow, every flickering light, gains a new terror which shooting in colour could not possibly achieve.
Of course, it’s impossible to review the movie without discussing its use of gore. After all, it’s the main reason you’re going to see it – right? First Sequence aimed to desensitize its audience to violence, and even mock it with its dark humour, but Full Sequence seems more concerned with dealing with people’s reactions to the first film – and shocking them into even more outrage. The cuts the BBFC made on this film are somewhat redundant; we’ve already paid money to see people get sown together arse-to-mouth, our souls are already beyond saving. Although we are spared from seeing Martin masturbating with a portion of sandpaper, and raping a woman with barbed wire wrapped around his junk, we still know he does it. Cutting it out will only make people want to see it more, and find some illegitimate method of getting their hands on the cut material.
Laurence R. Harvey gives an unnerving and brilliant performance as the disturbed Martin.
Laurence R. Harvey gives an unnerving and brilliant performance as the disturbed Martin. He has no lines, and so conveys the psychotic nature of his character through hand gestures and facial expressions. The way he thoroughly, perversely, licks his finger before turning a page in his scrapbook causes you to cringe; sickened by the intense pleasure he gets from his obsession. The only time we hear a peep out of Martin is when he gurgles with pleasure, or whimpers in pain; accentuating his childlike nature.
Bridson also gives a terrifying performance as Martin’s mother. Her contempt and disregard for him is perhaps more disturbing than anything else in the film, and is a clear indication of why Martin’s sanity took a rain check. Unfortunately, this is where the decent acting stops, as the rest of the cast deliver below average performances. The appearance of Ashlynn Yennie, who starred in First Sequence, continues the theme of self-reference and continues the franchise’s dark humour, as Yennie thinks she’s attending an audition for the new Tarantino film.
Unfortunately, the film falls flat at the last hurdle; its ending is vague and uncertain. In fact, you’d think the BBFC had cut some important, penultimate scene, as the jump to the finale is so stark. Instead of having an air of mystery, the ending is just simply confusing and unsatisfying – spoiling the otherwise perfectly paced narrative.
Full Sequence is radically different to the first in The Human Centipede franchise, and with the third and final instalment on the horizon, one wonders what Six has left to achieve – and shock us with. If Full Sequence is anything to go by, then it’s safe to assume there are many surprises on the horizon. No-one is safe.
Harvey is by far the best thing about The Human Centipede. It would come as no surprise if his performance catapults him into the world of mainstream horror. His creepy, childlike nature is unsettling – far more so than any of the film’s gory centipede scenes are. Although the supporting cast give spotty performances, and the ambiguity of the ending is extremely unsatisfying, Full Sequence accomplishes far more than its younger sibling ever did. You’ll also find the dark humour from First Sequence carries over into Full Sequence; redefining the phrase ‘tongue-in-cheek’.
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