Anyone who can recall our review last year of “The Human Centipede (First Sequence)” may remember an observation that the film’s events weren’t as graphic as everyone expected — that they could’ve been much worse.
Turns out that when writer/ director Tom Six promoted his original film by saying the sequel would make it look like “My Little Pony“ by comparison, that wasn’t just a good sound bite. “The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)” makes its big brother look positively innocent. To Six’s credit, he didn’t simply remake his own movie. Instead, he completely flipped it and went meta.
If you dare, see for yourself exactly how. Catch it now on-demand; it’s probably a good thing you won’t find “THC II” playing in any local theater.
This follow-up begins with Martin (newcomer Laurence R. Harvey), a sweaty, bug-eyed, obese parking garage attendant in London, watching the tail end of the first film on his laptop at work. When it’s over, he watches it again. He’s obsessed with it, to the point that he keeps a “Centipede” scrapbook hidden underneath his bed, as if it were porn.
Martin doesn’t utter a word.
His story his so simple — a lifetime of abuse and ridicule — that he doesn’t have to. The gist of “THC II” is that he begins to wonder about testing the movie’s infamous “100% Medically Accurate” tagline, so he seeks out unwilling test subjects for an experiment. Whereas the original’s Dr. Heiter had but three victims, Martin seeks a dirty dozen.
Whereas the first film was clean and antiseptic in look and design, this sequel is bleak and grimy. Whereas the first film was in color, this sequel is in black-and-white — except for one scene, à la the girl in the red dress from “Schindler’s List,” but I dare not say how. Whereas the first film showed next to nothing, this sequel shows everything. I do think it goes too far, and from someone with a strong tolerance for horror, that’s saying something.
I’m still processing the experience, too. Six has made the darkest of black comedies, set in “Eraserhead”-type surroundings of societal misery, and then stitched on a Grand Guignol grand finale so unnerving, you may laugh as you recoil.Harvey gives such a remarkably brave performance, we alternately feel sorry for him and want to kill him. I think I liked the movie — after all, it’s arty, clever and unique — but so much of its third act crosses the line, the angel on my shoulder tells me I shouldn’t.