Since watching director Tom Six’s latest shockfest “The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence”, I’ve been trying to write this review. Usually I can knock these suckers out with little to no trouble whatsoever, but this one has stumped me. There’s a part of me that wants to applaud Six for not giving us what we expected, for thinking “outside of the box”, as it were, for his sequel. However, there’s another part that feels “Full Sequence” is nothing more than shock for the sake of shock, a cheap vehicle to drum up controversy for an otherwise mediocre motion picture. I’m seriously on the fence about this one, and I doubt I’ll fall one way or the other anytime soon.
“Full Sequence” doesn’t have much of a plot. In fact, you could go as far as to say that it doesn’t have one. I’m sure Six and company would probably agree with that sentiment. Instead, we’re given a grimy, black-and-white character piece, one that follows the gruesome, otherworldly adventures of a sad little man named Martin. During his nocturnal shift as a security guard for an underground parking garbage, Martin watches Tom Six’s “The Human Centipede” over and over again, obsessing over every little detail. He even keeps a meticulously-crafted, “Centipede”-related scrapbook, a beloved tome he’s forced to keep hidden under his mattress. After all, his homicidal mother, an overbearing nightmare that treats him like garbage, wouldn’t approve of such filth in her house. The guy’s existence is pretty miserable.
Martin, it would seem, isn’t content with just watching the movie. Heavens, no. His goal is to make his own human centipede, one made up of the poor bastards who stumble into his parking garage. All of his unwilling human components are kept squirreled away in a nondescript warehouse, a building which will ultimately house the weird bastard’s unholy creation. Using the film as a guideline, he begins to stitch his abomination together, though this procedure doesn’t go exactly as he’d planned. As far as plot is concerned, this is about all you’ve got, so don’t go into this thing looking for a solid storyline. Unless, of course, you happen to enjoy disappointment.
The entire movie seems to exist in some weird alternate universe. It’s sparsely populated, perpetually stormy, exceptionally filthy — were it not for “The Human Centipede” alumni Ashlynn Yennie, you’d think the whole bloody affair was happening right down the street from “Eraserhead”. Martin can pretty much do as he pleases, which includes savagely assaulting and kidnapping the unfortunate souls who patronize this foreboding establishment. The police apparently have no interest in these crimes, which the perpetrator makes no effort to conceal. It gives the film and unnerving atmosphere, and immediately separates it from its predecessor.
Unfortunately, that’s where my praise pretty much ends. Outside of a memorable turn from newcomer Laurence R. Harvey — an actor whose performance deserves a much better film — and an interesting bit involving the mass injection of a powerful laxative, “Full Sequence” really doesn’t have that much to offer in terms of shock. Sadly, this may have more to do with the screening copy I received than anything else, as IFC has removed perhaps the most controversial moment from its theatrical and VOD release. And while I’m definitely interested to see how this scene plays out, I seriously doubt I’d watch the entire movie over again just for one debaucherous sequence. If you’re looking for the complete experience, you may have to wait for DVD and/or Blu-ray.
When you sit down with a shock film crafted by a self-proclaimed shock director, doesn’t that ultimately remove the shock factor from the equation? “The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence”, despite Harvey’s genuinely unsettling performance and its overwhelmingly gloomy atmosphere, is exactly what you’d expect from a filmmaker who seems to specialize in making motion pictures strictly to stir up controversy. Truthfully, it’s hard to tell which idea came first: the human centipede scenario or the desire to cause trouble. Martin would have been a great character to explore had Six decided to incorporate him into a feature that didn’t involve the centipede storyline. And even though it’s not a retread, the overall impact doesn’t come close to matching that of its predecessor. At the end of the day, “Full Sequence” is mediocre exploitation perpetrated by a showman who revels in pushing your buttons. If you walk away offended, then I suppose Six and company have done their job. I just hope they don’t expect anyone to say they enjoyed it.
Tom Six (director) / Tom Six (screenplay)
CAST: Laurence R. Harvey … Martin
Ashlynn Yennie … Miss Yennie