DIRECTOR Tom Six WRITER Tom Six STARS Ashlynn Yennie; Maddi Black; Laurence R. Harvey DVD & BLU-RAY 21 November
It’s difficult to not feel initially irked by The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence), purely down to its self-indulgent plot: our central character is an überfan of the first film, inspired to concoct his own creature. Also, for all director Tom Six’s bleating regards medical accuracy, one ponders how/why on earth he didn’t give his creation its correct common name. A centipede holds two limbs per segment. A millipede, four. A human on hands and knees would make for — yes, you guessed it; four limbs. Thankfully, the tagline for this sequel is ‘100% medically inaccurate’.
The irksome to one side, and The Human Centipede 2 is not quite as bad as I had expected. The first film, despite holding a ludicrous reputation as sickeningly horrific, is deathly dull. This one is certainly not that. Much more graphic, to the point of an initial BBFC ban, it also sees a little more of a story. But only a little.
Martin is mentally retarded and a lonely, troubled, sort. Sexually abused by his father as a child, he soils the bed and lives with his emotionally abusive mother, who, blaming him for her husband’s imprisonment, would like nothing better than to see him dead. As a nighttime car park attendant, Martin sees little else in terms of social interaction, spending his time repeatedly watching The Human Centipede, occasionally supplementing it with some sandpaper-aided masturbation. Collecting segments, he works towards creating his very own centipede, and dreams of including the actors from the film. Lured by the promise of an audition with Quentin Tarantino, one actress flies to London, and here the nitty-gritty begins.
Laurence R. Harvey turns in an excellent performance as our social misfit. Somehow, with no dialogue, he conveys a very real vulnerability and innocence to Martin that’s just as prominent as his strange appearance, which goes largely unnoticed until a murder attempt by his mother, and a further scene in which she rips up his Human Centipede scrapbook. Here, you will feel an unanticipated sympathy for the character; he is not a monster, rather a severely damaged person with nothing but his obsession to live for. And, despite the torture inflicted upon his centipede segments, it is difficult to not feel a sorrow for Martin in the final scenes, as he fails to exercise his dream.
But, praiseworthy lead actor aside, this is not a strong film. The decision for black-and-white does suit, adding a graininess to what is a nasty, sad story, but there is no escaping the knowledge of a rapidly hashed idea that’s nothing approaching the harrowing its makers believe. A constant soundtrack grates, whilst the other performances are dreadful enough to make for a college project feel. A film must never rely solely on its lead actor to carry it, nevertheless The Human Centipede 2 does just that. An improvement on the first by all means, but this is more of a title that needs ticking off the list than a must-see.