PLOT: A mentally unstable parking garage attendant obsessed with the original HUMAN CENTIPEDE film decides it's time he makes a centipede of his own. Only problem is, he's no doctor; he'll have to improvise...
REVIEW: If we're to judge movies by what they set out to do, then THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 is absolutely a success. It seeks to shock and disgust you; to make you laugh at its excess; to give you a front row seat to one of the more unpleasant notions in cinematic history and dare you to look away. Like its villain, it's fascinating and bizarre, deliriously gross and vile, but it's not dumb either. It's nearly impossible to "like" THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 (unless you're as deranged as its character), but it cannot be denied that it works on its own terms.
I won't rehash the events of the first film since it's actually irrelevant. Writer-director Tom Six's big idea this time is that THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE, reviled and notorious all around the world, has had a very peculiar effect on one person. Martin (Laurence R. Harvey) is an asthmatic, stumpy, helplessly awkward parking garage attendant who lives with his deranged mother and spends all day and night either watching Six's film or lovingly filling a scrapbook dedicated to it. He's even got a pet centipede. When we first meet the Martin, he's preparing to take the next step in his devotion to the film; he's going to construct a human centipede of his own. The parking garage provides a host of easy victims (indeed, it seems that victims are the only people who enter the place), all of whom we barely get to know before Martin either shoots their legs out from under them or whacks them with a crowbar. The final piece in his puzzle is adding an actor from THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE (actress Ashlynn Yennie shows up thinking she's auditioning for a role in the new Quentin Tarantino movie) and then Martin's all set. He'll just have to be creative when it comes to actually stitching everybody together - in patented mouth-to-anus style, of course.
While the victims are left unexplored, Martin, for all his simplicity, is a fairly fascinating character. With his bug-eyes and seriously unfortunate physique, Martin is an unappetizing sight to behold, and Harvey's performance - whether it mostly be by virtue of his physical appearance or not - is grotesquely compelling. (It should be noted that he doesn't speak a word of dialog in the film, but his various whimpers, groans and coos are certainly enough.) While there's some background noise about him having an abusive father, and his mother is always talking about killing him, there's no doubt that Tim Six wants us to know that Martin's fatal undoing is his exposure to THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE, which has warped the oddly pitiable man-child into a perverted monster.( I think Six would like to take credit for the undoing of a lot of people; there's more than a sense of self-satisfaction going on here.)
Six is no great cinematic genius, but he is an expert provocateur, and he crafts an ugly image like no one else working in horror today (that I can think of). There are a great deal of gross-out moments in this film that won't be easily forgotten. However, though he's superb at visual punishment, Six isn't really a master of ideas. Not unlike the first HUMAN CENTIPEDE, the movie doesn't have anywhere to go after the queasy central concept is realized. The angle involving Yennie, especially, isn't fully explored; her role in Martin's fantasy feels perfunctory, when it could have given the flick a really meaty subplot.
Six, however, isn't really interested in subplots. He's zoned in on the one-note horror of the centipede. The third act of THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 locks you in Martin's warehouse with his victims, where the groaning and muffled screaming is unremitting and the blood - along with other bodily fluids - runs freely. It's a long stretch of nightmare, and it holds you in its thrall if you can stand it. To call this a freak show combined with a train wreck would be understating matters.
That's not to say that Six is without a sense of humor; HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 is, in a great many ways, absurdly funny. (Yes, you'll have to find the humor in a sequence where Martin tries to squeeze feces out of his bound, ass-to-mouth gagged victims while making fart sounds with his mouth.) Six accentuates the ridiculousness of the entire concept more than a few times; he shoves the audience's face in his over-the-top absurdity and hopes they gag and laugh along with him.
By now you probably know if THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 is for you. Think you've seen it all? Confidant you can handle anything thrown at you? THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 has a few things to show you.