Four and a half years after it’s release and I finally got around to watching the sequel to the (honestly, absolutely appalling and abysmal) modern horror classic, The Human Centipede. While a lot of people I know put off watching the second or third instalment to this needless gore-fest because they found the first one horrifying enough, I personally put it off due to the pure let down I found the first one to be. I recall watching the trailer for the first instalment with my friends in school, and my early teen mind being haunted by the idea of the German physician climbing out from under my bed and slicing off my kneecaps. I unfortunately didn’t find myself to be even half that scared upon watching the full feature, which is filled with poor acting and far from professional effects.
While at my friend’s house the other night, we decided to watch a trashy horror movie that we could laugh at – and what better to fit this description than the sequel to a highly disappointing horror that didn’t nearly live up to it’s hype?
I’m sure most people have heard of the strange happenings of this film, even if they haven’t seen it, but for those who don’t I will quickly explain:
Set somewhere between 6 – 12 months after the initial release, a fanatic of the franchise watches the film on a daily basis while on the job as a security guard at a (strangely abandoned, considering it’s set in London) car park. Being the victim to sexual abuse performed by his father when he was young, and living with the mother that defends her husband’s actions, he’s grown to develop many psychological issues, leading to his strange addiction to the idea of recreating The Human Centipede, now with more people. Using his job as an advantage (seeing as practically everyone who comes into the car park is a human embodiment of a trash filled butthole), the antagonist knocks people within the car park unconscious and takes their bodies to an empty warehouse where he leaves them until his collection of twelve is complete. Once he has enough to satisfy himself, he pulls out their teeth, and uses stables and duct tape to connect them each together, ass to mouth.
Now, time to focus on the easy part: what’s wrong with this movie (besides it’s lack of morality). To begin with, the setting: while I may not live in London any more, I can say from experience of growing up their for the beginning of my life that everywhere is crowded; especially in the ‘rougher’ areas (such as South East London – where I lived), which is clearly where the antagonist, Martin Lomax, is located, based on his living situation, his neighbours, his poor access to medical care, and his employment (as the car park is quite run down). This may seem like a nitpick to some people, but the setting of any film is crucial to the believability of it. If the setting of somewhere outdoors doesn’t match that of the narrative, or the mise en scene when the character is at home or elsewhere indoors in relation to their whereabouts and life circumstances, then all realism is taken from the depiction we are being given.
Secondly, the effects. While certain aspects have been improved upon since the first feature, there are definitely some parts that are just as cheaply created as Tom Six’s prior film. Namely, the scene when (get ready for a spoiler) Martin bashes his mother’s head in with a crowbar until their is nothing but a bloody mess and a gaping whole where her brain and half her skull used to lie. This part was extremely disappointing to watch, as her newly bashed-in skull was clearly a paper machete piece covered in fake blood, attached to (what is likely a) mannequin.
Next, the methods used by the psychotic to knock out his victims. This couldn’t have taken away realism any more; my friend and I even found ourselves repeatedly bringing up how easily he could have (and, realistically, would have) killed each of the people he prayed upon. Let’s be honest, you can easily cause brain damage by hitting someone over the head hard enough with a solid metal object. You can just as easily kill someone with a metal object if you hit them hard and to the correct place; I’d say, considering the force he was using to hit his victims, as well as the fact that they were hit multiple times, he would have definitely cause brain damage to all of them, and should have killed most, if not all, of the people he held hostage.
Lastly, the acting. It’s clear that Six tried to make his trilogy on as small a budget as possible, using minimal locations (especially in the first sequence of the franchise), unknown actors, and easily created, home-made practical effects.
Now, let’s look at what I thought was genuinely good about the film:
The black and white effect casting over the entire feature. This really added to the horror of the film, creating an atmosphere that not many modern horror movies can correctly grasp. Peronally, the atmosphere created reminded me of that created in Eraserhead (1977). While the acting from some characters can bring you out of the atmosphere, this isn’t too often, and is also counteracted with the intense (and rather creepy) stare from Martin.
Martin’s lack on lines. He quite literally has no lines throughout the entire flick. Nada. This is most definitely an amazing way to add to the chills he gives from beginning to end. Why is it so creepy that he doesn’t say anything? Because this small but very affective idea takes away the antagonist’s humanity. It is within human nature to fear the unknown – it’s an instinct that keeps us from danger when we’re in the wild (or, more likely these days, out of situations we can’t handle). Horror creators, no matter the medium used to convey it, use this to their advantage to really strike fear in the viewer/reader/listener’s heart. When used on children, the idea of monsters, aliens, or sometimes clowns can be extremely scary to them as there is little humanity to connect to it – simply, if it doesn’t look human and/or speak your language, then there is no way to know if it intends to harm you, so it is easier to presume it will. In horror directed at teens and adults this can simply be directed to the mentally deranged (as shown in classics such as Halloween (1978), or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), and so on), as their lack of empathy added to their actions is an unknown behaviour to the general public, and thus creates fear. The same thing is shown in this feature, but with one difference to usual: Martin is hiding in plain sight.
The last thing I enjoyed about this film (drum roll, please… *brrrrrrrrr*): the ending.
(Here comes another spoiler, so cover yourself in aloe vera if you’re upset about ending spoilers to cheap horror movies.) After some of the subjects to the torture rip themselves away from the anus they’re attached to, Martin becomes frustrated (possibly at their lack of dedication if he doesn’t understand emotions at all?) and kills each of them and walks away, leaving their bodies. He goes back to his job, and the viewer is left to assume he will attempt to recreate the piece again. Much like A Serbian Film (2010), upon it’s ending you realise that there is no foreseeable end to the horrific acts being committed.
So, what did I think of the feature overall? It was another poorly made film by a cheap director who doesn’t seem to understand what makes a good flick. With that said, there are definite improvements from the first Human Centipede that cannot be ignored and easily make it a film that I would recommend to the right person.
However, this is simply by looking at the film as something serious. It’s never specified anywhere that Six intended for these films to be seen as b-movies, so I put on my serious critique glasses when thinking about these flicks; but if you wanted to see them as b-movies, due to their obvious lack of budget, I would say this is one of the best modern b-movies I’ve experienced, yet. There were scenes where I genuinely felt uncomfortable, and was left feeling a little creeped out later that night, but it’s definitely not something I would call “truly scary” (as I’ve heard some people say).
If you want something not too heavy to watch with some friends, popcorn bowl in hand, this is one to check out. I doubt it’s something that can be watched the same while alone, though, so I’d say only watch with friends.