Dutch-born writer-director Tom Six is a man of his word, and his promise to make a far grosser follow-up to his 2009 horror hit is more than fully realized in “The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence).” It’s also blacker (literally, with black-and-white lensing), more absurdist, minimalist, vapid and pretentious than the original, presenting a morbidly obese, mentally slow mama’s boy trying to top the mad scientist from the first pic. Hotly anticipated by the hardest-core layer of fanboy culture, pic unfortunately may demand a third experiment.“I always tell my friends,” Six states in his interview on the “Human Centipede” DVD, “that part one will be ‘My Little Pony’ compared to part two,” and despite the first pic’s ample supply of medical/biological/psychological grossness, the sequel confirms that Six’s claim was no exaggeration. The first film’s German surgeon took his skills separating Siamese twins in a horrific direction by attaching two women and one man together, mouth to anus. The new angle here is that, while the first time it was only a movie, this time it’s real. Obsessed and, if you will, inspired by “The Human Centipede,” pathetically fat Martin (Laurence R. Harvey, a Brit performance artist in a striking screen debut) lives with his whiny, pasty-faced mother (Vivien Bridson) in a dumpy London flat with only a pet centipede and a cherished scrapbook on the movie to keep his tiny heart afloat. Not improving matters is incompetent Dr. Sebring (Bill Hutchens), who suspects Martin’s emotionally stunted personality stems from his abuse at the hands of his incarcerated (and unseen) dad. Add to the mix some boorish neighbors who play their post-punk music at ear-deafening levels, and you have a world that flagrantly displays the various influences of Joe Orton, Francis Bacon, Joel-Peter Witkin, Samuel Beckett and David Lynch, as captured in cinematographer David Meadows’ monochrome HD wide-angle lensing. But as the rest of the film shows, while Six has tapped into the stylings of great artists (much as he did with David Cronenberg, Stanley Kubrick and Michael Haneke in the first film, which was as white and glistening as this one is dark and muddy), he remains incapable of sustaining his thin and disgusting concept over feature length. Once Martin snaps when his mom rips up his scrapbook, nothing is quite the same, and he proceeds to leave a trail of at least 20 corpses before the end credits. Propping up dead mom at the family dinner table with her horrifically bashed-in skull is only the intro to a sequence in which Martin goes on a killing/collecting spree, gathering 12 naked, bound and gagged victims for an experiment mimicking the first film’s stunt. Key to Martin’s perversion is his yen for self-mutilating masturbation while watching the “Human Centipede” DVD at his workstation, offering the film’s only sliver of insight into the corpuscular, googly-eyed and nearly wordless lad’s state of mind. The latter half of the pic’s action comes as close to the porn half of the porn-horror subgenre as any filmmaker has managed to date, and it’s enough to have convinced the British Board of Film Classification to refuse “Human Centipede II” a certificate, thus preventing DVD or VOD release in the U.K. (which were the only planned platforms). Six’s half-developed sense of humor trickles in when Martin picks up Ashlynn Yennie (the actress who played the rear part of the original three-person “centipede”) at Heathrow, luring her with the promise of an audition with Quentin Tarantino. Of course, there’s no Quentin, and Yennie soon realizes she’s in the “reality” aftermath of the movie she co-starred in, with no way out of one of the world’s most disturbing warehouses. More boring than stomach-churning, the film nevertheless contains scattered scenes and sequences so far beyond the tolerance of the squeamish that it can’t be overstated; one, detailing the violent birth and death of a baby, is here simply to shock the most jaded of the jaded. It also displays the fact that Six has a somewhat larger budget this time for more grossness and disgust, which his tech crew delivers with relish.
An IFC Midnight (in U.S.) release of a Six Entertainment production. Produced by Ilona Six, Tom Six. Executive producer, Ilona Six. Directed, written by Tom Six.
Camera (B&W, HD), David Meadows; editor, Nigel De Hond; music, James Edward Barker; production designer, Thomas Stefan; art director, Stephan Johannes; set decorators, Benjamin Joffe, Tom Mangel; costume designer, Harriet Thompson; sound (stereo), Henry Milliner; sound designer, Eilam Hoffman; supervising sound editor, Hoffman; re-recording mixers, Graham Daniel, Adam Daniel, Srdjan Kurpjel; special effects supervisor, Jonathan Bullock; special effects prosthetics supervisor, John Schoonraad; assistant director, Clare Finnegan; casting, Six Entertainment. Reviewed at RealD screening room, Beverly Hills, September 28, 2011. (In Fantastic Fest -- opener.) Running time: 90 MIN.
Ashlynn Yennie, Laurence R. Harvey, Vivien Bridson, Bill Hutchens.