(NOTE: This review is based on the American release that retains the cuts enforced by the BBFC before its release in Britain).
Whilst the argument surrounding the censorship of The Human Centipede II (THC2 herein) still rages, us Brits receive Tom Six’s grot-fest of a sequel in a neutered form, with over two and a half minutes of cuts. As to whether this was necessary is open to debate but whether you see the cut or un-cut version one thing is certain: part 2 of The Human Centipede series is a far more sadistic and brutal film than its predecessor.
Effectively taking the route of the meta-narrative, THC2 tells the story of Martin (Laurence R. Harvey), a mentally disturbed security guard who lives with his abusive mother (Vivien Bridson). Sexually obsessed with the first film, Martin begins to capture unwilling victims in order to make his own human centipede (this time with twelve people), for his own sexual gratification.
The idea that anyone can be turned on by the original film is a nasty idea whichever way you cut it, however, with Tom Six breaking the fourth wall and going meta on us, he’s at least done something interesting. Much like the first film, it takes a sadistic glee in the violence yet, in having the protagonist be a fan of the original, one could argue that the film itself is an allegory on the notion that violence as entertainment influences those that watch it. It was certainly Six’s intention. During promotion of the film, he has been vocal on his want to create something of a social satire, a vicious but knowing piece of film making that has something to say about violence and its influence on the audience.
However, Six only partially succeeds. No amount of black and white photography or arty-meta pretences can hide the fact that, in the end, it is an extraordinarily nasty film. Whilst there are moments of jet black comedy to be found, the film’s tone is ultimately sadistic and mean spirited. Six’s promise to deliver on the grue missing from the first film is met, however, as stated by the BBFC, there is little effort made to depict the members of the centipede as anything more than victims to be tortured and humiliated for Martin’s sexual pleasure. There have been movies in the past that have relentlessly tortured both the cast and the audience under the guise of social or political allegory, such as Salo or Funny Games, yet there is a gleeful immaturity that revels so much in the violence that the message ultimately gets lost amongst the never ending moans, screams, and defecation.
Whilst it’s questionable as to whether this film poses a legitimate threat to UK residents in its uncut form, THC2 is a film that will polarise its audience. Call it sick or daring, a train wreck or a triumph, there’s no denying it’s an interesting film that you can both admire and loathe in equal measure. Once you look past the depravity and shitting that is.
Best line: One captured victim, bound and naked, cries in disbelief: ‘But it’s a film! The Human Centipede’s a fucking film!’