- Rated R
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All photos © IFC Midnight
Reviewed by Ross Ruediger
riter/director Tom Six is one hell of a salesman. Peddling his particular brand of wares is no small feat, and peddling them successfully, even more so. I was rather on the fence about his controversial debut, “The Human Centipede [First Sequence],” admiring parts of it more than the whole, but with this follow-up he’s accomplished what few before him have, and that’s creating a sequel that bests its predecessor. On the other hand, since the first movie wasn’t all that tits in the first place, maybe the achievement should be kept in check. Maybe.
With this new film, the concept goes completely meta, with the first film existing as a movie within the universe of the second film. A short, fat, mentally challenged man named Martin (Laurence R. Harvey) is obsessed with “The Human Centipede,” watching it repeatedly, making a scrapbook of its imagery and medical procedures, and even keeping a centipede pet of his very own. He lives with his aged mother (Vivien Bridson), and as the narrative moves forward, we discover that he was sexually abused by his father, who has since left both of them. The mother is a wretched piece of work, constantly berating and blaming her son for everything that’s wrong with her life, and there’s little left to the imagination as to why Martin is the way he is. Although he can clearly speak, Six chooses to not ever let us hear him do so. As about 99% of the film is spent with Martin, the result is a movie told mostly through imagery rather than dialogue.
When Martin isn’t suffocating at his home, he works as a security guard at an underground parking garage where he’s slowly collecting victims – with the help of a crowbar – for his own human centipede, which he intends to build in an abandoned warehouse. Posing as a film casting agent, he even goes so far as to contact the stars of “First Sequence,” as he wants to include them in his masterpiece. Ashley C. Williams and Akihiro Kitamura are unavailable, however Ashlynn Yennie, lured by the belief that she’s auditioning for a Tarantino film, flies to London and into Martin’s trap.
Six says that his goal with “Full Sequence” was to make a film that was the complete opposite of the first one, and he successfully does so. Whereas the first film was colorful and well-shot, this one is in black and white and lensed with a handheld style. Whereas Dr. Heiter was an intelligent, competent scientist, Martin is a bumbling weirdo – certainly not someone who can pull off a massive surgical procedure which is required to reach his goal. But most importantly, whereas “First Sequence” left much to the imagination, “Full Sequence” shows everything – and I do mean everything – that the first film wouldn’t. This is a repulsive, disgusting film that pushes so many boundaries you just know Six and his cohorts often wondered aloud what was left that they hadn’t yet done, and whatever the answers were, they then said, “We’ve got to do that!” It goes so far that, much like in the first film, it becomes darkly comical in the most uncomfortable of spots.
The movie grabs inspiration from some unlikely places. “Eraserhead” is clearly a big influence. So are the old Universal “Frankenstein” movies, I believe. Six even cops to stealing from “Schindler’s List” for one scene; you’ll know it when you get there, and, provided your sense of humor is as whacked as mine, you’ll laugh loud and hard. What I think this movie mostly does, however, is show how smart of a filmmaker Six really is, and how what he did with “First Sequence” was merely the first stage of an elaborate three-picture plan, so that in the end he could have “one long four and a half hour movie” (his words, not mine). Yes, “The Human Centipede [Final Sequence]” is going to happen and frankly I can’t wait to see what Six has in store.
The three and a half stars I gave this movie are really just a courtesy to say that I think it’s a better film than the first, which I gave three stars. It could be four stars, or maybe even five. Most people would think I’m nuts for giving it any stars. This movie goes beyond any kind of star rating, or thumbs up/thumbs down, and in the moment I realized that, I appreciated it on a different, less critical level entirely; being drunk on little more than sickness and perversity was actually quite freeing.
Single-Disc Blu-ray Review:
The extras here are very similar in construct to what was on the Blu-ray for the first movie. There’s a lively, fun commentary track with Tom Six and Laurence R. Harvey, and it’s something of a relief to listen to the actor talk about making the movie, just so one is sure he’s not the real deal, so shamelessly convincing is his performance in the film. There’s another on-camera interview with a very enthusiastic Six that’s great fun. It really is a pleasure to listen to this guy talk about his craft. He’s the real deal. Ashlynn Yennie gives a nice behind the scenes tour of the warehouse, which is actually a sort of making-of featurette. It’s amazing to see all of these actors having a blast putting this thing together, especially after sitting through the movie. Just like on the last disc, there’s a nasty peek at the recording of the film’s foley work, and also a short featurette on the making of the movie poster, a quick deleted scene, and some promo material.