I’m a little tardy to the party on The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence. I know that by this time, it’s been reviewed many times over, and critics have vomited up their feelings on this weird little film all over the inter-tubes; it seems to be a pretty polarizing piece of work. Personally, it made me feel feelings – confusing ones – so I figured I’d better work them out on paper. I can’t imagine I’m the only one who felt like a little self-help was in order after watching this.
On its face, Full Sequence is really a pretty decent horror movie. Laurence R. Harvey is totally, effectively creepy as the villain and main character, “Martin”. It’s a pretty huge task to carry an entire movie when your character is rendered all but mute, and Harvey really makes this work with his menacing (albeit grunting and sweaty) presence. With no script to speak of, he really nails it in his whole approach to the single-minded fanboy-gone-wrong, attempting to re-enact and one-up his favorite movie of all time.
I’m not sure why director Tom Six decided to go black-and-white in this sequel, but even so, I think it mostly worked, giving the proceedings a bit of a voyeuristic, outside-looking-in feel, reflecting a bit of the misery that saturates the entire film. I like the idea that Martin, as some sort of parking garage attendant, is hunting his victims on gritty security cameras while we view his exploits in the same manner. Pretty intense for a film so very concerned with poop.
Of course, the whole idea here, both in the narrative and in the film itself, is to out-do First Sequence, and it actually succeeds on many levels. In retrospect, it could be argued that the “100% Medically Accurate” angle took something key away from the first film; while the Insane Surgeon is a great trope with tons of potential for the red stuff, the whole process came off more sterile and methodical, and therefore somewhat less violent than it might have intended (check out Scott’s lovely review on First Sequence here). Full Sequence, on the other hand, really had the opportunity to go balls-out with the violence, considering that its antagonist had no method or medical skill on which to rely; he just went for it with some duct tape and a staple gun. Mostly, this worked well within the sloppy scope of the character, who never took many pains to conceal his crimes, and went about his business with none of the precision, care, or planning of his predecessor. Once he got the ball rolling, there were some nice gore effects, obviously constructed to be felt by the audience, which did their jobs well and didn’t suffer much for the absence of color. On that note, I suppose I should mention that the one bit of color in the film (yep – brown) also served its intended, disgusting purpose, though I’d shy away from calling that an “artistic” choice.
The “centipede” itself was serviceable and adequately painful-looking, gruesome and agonizing with four times the horrified moans of its forefather. Once it was completely assembled, it seemed like the film itself realized its limitations; you’ve got twelve people stapled ass-to-mouth – where does one go from there, besides the obligatory dancing-around-in-triumph? Laurence Harvey plays this perfectly to the character, though, with a truly bone-chilling, demented glee.
Now. All that said, and in spite of the things that I felt really worked, I had a lot of trouble with this film. It wasn’t the gore, or the extreme violence; it wasn’t in the weirdo unnecessary side-characters or even the fact that the whole thing is basically First Sequence with the volume turned up to 11. My real question is why? As much thought as I put into it, I could never really discern anything that resembled a point in this movie. Full Sequence didn’t have the questioning substance of some of the more violent, meta-type films of the genre – it didn’t necessarily shove the morality of cinematic violence in your face and then remind you that you asked for it, and it didn’t flesh anything out enough to find something deeper in the plot. While I don’t feel as though every single horror film needs to be a metaphor or an allegory or even find some deeper meaning, I do feel that good films require a bit of actual focus. I never found that here, and that’s where it really fell flat for me. You know me – I’m all for a nice arterial spray – but without some substance to back it up, it’s hard to come up with a defense as to why the thing exists. It’s like a set of balls without the dick. Full Sequence had some balls, it’s true – but it takes more than balls to keep a girl interested.
Kara is a Senior Office Assistant for the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics at Indiana University. A past English major and lifetime writer, she has also served both as an actress and behind-the-scenes assistant for several projects with our friends at Clockwerk Pictures. Kara lives with her husband in Bloomington, Indiana. In her spare time, she is a freelance editor/proofreader for international students at Indiana University, and serves as an organizer of the Dark Carnival Film Festival (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com).