The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) (2011)

As promised, last night I trekked down to the awesome IFC Center for the midnight premiere of The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence). I like to get to the theater early to secure a prime seat, so imagine my surprise when I arrived to find at least a hundred people already standing in line. More shocking, at least half of the sold-out audience was women, many of whom appeared to be rabid fans of the first film. I don’t mean to project any gender biases here but I think we can all agree that was a little unexpected.

Before the show, the theater staff handed out barf bags and stain remover, which everyone found pretty cute. Then some clown from indieWIRE got on the mic for a lengthy introduction, complete with a horror trivia game. Even though they were giving out sweet t-shirts (“HC2: The Deuce is Loose”), by the time the Human Centipede 3 pitch contest was done – winner: The Human Centipede (Fibonacci Sequence) – we were all getting antsy. When offered another game and more free stuff, the unanimous response was something along the lines of, “Get off the stage, asshole!”

With my pulse slightly elevated and my last meal safely digested, the lights finally went down and the movie began. After seeing the first one I was well prepared for what was to come, and it helped to have a crowd of people around. Still, what does it say about me that two hours later I was in bed, sleeping peacefully, without so much as a troubled dream?

This is what happens when you can't find a publisher for your cookbook.

The story: I guess you could say Martin is a pretty big Human Centipede fan. A night watchman at a London parking garage, he whiles away the tedious hours by repeatedly watching the movie, adding to his scrapbook of production notes and cast photos, and masturbating with sandpaper. You heard me.

But, just like yours truly, Martin’s life is about more than his job. He also has a hobby: building his very own multi-segmented human arthropod. He uses the garage’s security cameras to locate suitable victims, anesthetizes them with a tire iron, and drives their unconscious forms to a grimy, secluded warehouse for safekeeping. It’s never clear why nobody notices the abandoned cars of a dozen missing persons have all been parked in the same location for days. This is especially odd since one of them is still occupied by a screaming child. I have to say, if poopyface auteur Tom Six had any balls at all, that kid would have been the ass end of the ‘pede. But I guess we have to leave something on the table for the Final Sequence or whatever the inevitable next installment is called.

The crown jewel of Martin’s masterpiece is none other than Ashlynn Yennie from the first film, playing herself. To get her into his den of pain, he’ll have to convince her agent it’s part of an audition for a new Tarantino film. This is of course a totally ridiculous strategy that I will absolutely not be attempting to use on Jessica Biel in the near future.

Once all the pieces are in place, it’s time to put the puzzle together. Lights, camera, assholes.

Did you know you can find talent agents' phone numbers on IMDB? Hmmm...

Biggest letdown: The lone goal here was to make something even more revolting than First Sequence. The basic idea is, if you thought a latex-gloved doctor wielding medical grade cutlery was bad, just wait ’til it’s a bulbous, cock-eyed dwarf with a steak knife and a staple gun.

That’s a fine evolution, and the creation of an intermediate reality between the first movie and the audience is laudable, even if garbage like New Nightmare and Seed of Chucky covered that ground long ago. But somehow the original HC remains far more disturbing. Perhaps it’s because every element in it was completely benign, except for the whole sewing-buttholes-to-faces thing. The contrast between a sterile environment and forced shit eating made the horror far more vivid and compelling.

Martin's online dating profile pic has been less effective than he had hoped.

In HC2, all traces of subtlety are done away with in favor of the most extreme possible choices. Martin, for example, lives the worst life imaginable. He has a mundane, thankless job and spends the rest of his day in a claustrophobic, windowless apartment with his mother, who often threatens to kill them both. His upstairs neighbor routinely beats him for no reason. His father sexually abused him as a child. He looks like a miniature version of Sloth from The Goonies. This sort of piling on is pervasive and the cost of all that excess is nothing less than the audience’s attention. No one can deny that the idea of a pregnant woman choking on someone else’s diarrhea is horrifying. But when you get to the point where even that level of insane brutality is lost in a sea of equally nightmarish imagery, the overall impact is considerably dulled. Not unlike a rusty kitchen knife.

One last note: if you leave a dozen people in a warehouse, bound only with duct tape, eventually they will get loose. How hard would it be to sit up, back to back, and peel the tape off your neighbor’s hands? Honestly folks, a little effort here would go a long way.

Yep, think I'll just lie here and take it.

Why you should watch: Sure enough, this is one of the more graphic horror movies in recent memory. Eschewing outrageous, creative kills (lookin’ at you, Hatchet II), HC2 keeps it relatively simple with gun and knife, but displays everything – and I mean everything – in excruciating detail. When Martin slices into the first of many kneecaps, the camera is mere inches away as he reaches in and stretches out a rubbery tendon for a quick snip of the scissors. To pull that off at such close range, the practical effects really have to be, and are, quite marvelous. The monochrome palette – ostensibly chosen for general creepiness and to give the impression that Martin’s world is less real to him than his favorite movie – allows the imagination to fill in any gaps. I’m still baffled by how they did the closeup of a guy’s teeth getting knocked out with a hammer. Maybe it was digitally manipulated, or maybe they got a toothless actor and gave him dentures. Either way, if you, like a goodly chunk of last night’s audience, are looking to be massively disgusted this Halloween, or you just want a good story to tell at the bar the next night, your search is at an end.

Just what are you staring at? Oh, right.

But all that nastiness is to be expected. What impressed me more was the movie’s sense of humor, something mostly absent from First Sequence. Quite to my amazement, the editing evinced truly excellent comic timing. By way of an example, a few drunk gals are stumbling to their car. They spot Martin, who remains off camera. They stop as one remarks there’s a creepy midget watching them. There’s a stationary beat, and then we immediately cut to the front door of the warehouse and a big laugh. Simple and smart, just the way it should be. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t commend the completely wordless performance of newcomer Laurence Harvey as Martin. His bizarre body and unique facial features make him a worthy successor to the human set piece (where was that joke yesterday?) villain from the first film.

I feel you judging me.

Memorable Moment: Perhaps the funniest gag in the movie is when Martin returns to his darkened bedroom to find his mother stabbing the pillow, on which, just moments before, his head had been resting. She staggers back, caught in the act, but he passes her by without comment and throws himself back on the bed, promptly falling asleep. NOT UNLIKE MYSELF RIGHT AFTER THE MOVIE.

Choice quote: There are a few decent one-liners but nothing tops this one, overheard in the theater as people searched for empty seats: “There’s room in this sequence…”

About the Rating System

2 Responses to “The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) (2011)”

  1. […] The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) – Now in artsy black and white! […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: