Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Human Centipede 2 (2011)

Fear 2/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 3/5

I've avoided this one for awhile now for two reasons: 1. I wasn't all that thrilled with the first installment and 2. by most accounts, this was filmmaker Tom Six's middle finger to everyone who said he didn't go far enough in his initial feature and it's nothing more than shock for shock's sake. Curiosity is a bitch and as previously evidenced, I like the endurance test that some films present.While definitely shocking, it isn't just messed up for the sake of being so. There is an attempt here at style and more artistic elements are on display. But ultimately, like the first, it does absolutely nothing for me.

Meet Martin. He's the most physically repulsive character I've ever seen on film. I mean that literally. I can't remember the last time I had such a strong reaction to someone's physical appearance onscreen. Great casting choice and probably the biggest accomplishment I can pay to Six or whoever chose to cast him. Martin is a parking garage security guard who has a very unhealthy obsession with the first film. Yes kids, this is a film within a film. The story serves as a source of perverted pleasure as well as an instructional tool for Martin. From watching the film during work and grossly masturbating to it, to rewinding and rewinding again to watch particular scenes of interest, to putting together a scrapbook featuring step-by-step instructions on 'how-to', this is a man who has more than just an unusual fascination.

As you can imagine, it's only a matter of time before Martin's fantasy becomes reality. And that's just what happens as he incapacitates unsuspecting people walking back to their cars and takes them to a warehouse where he plans to construct his own incarnation of the notorious creature. Only this time he has bigger aspirations as he attempts to affix twelve unwilling subjects ass to mouth. The only problem? He has nowhere near the medical know-how that Dr. Heiter had which makes for some gruesome scenes as he awkwardly constructs this thing with everyday items such as duct tape and a staple gun.

In the midst of his work, we see Martin at home, interacting with his roommate: his emotionally abusive mother. She's mean, nasty, and degrading, but only a small piece of the puzzle that is Martin's horrific background. We get glimpses of more as flash backs fill in additional pieces and we hear his dad raping him as a young boy.

So the experiment continues on and it gets more and more gruesome (including a forced exchange of excrement between subjects). However, things begin to unravel when the chain starts to rip themselves apart at the seams. Martin is none too thrilled about this and deals with things in horrific fashion. As our film ends, we're left wondering: was it real or all just a dream? But quite frankly, I really don't care.

As mentioned there was more here than just shock value as Six displays some style albeit it's been done to death already. The black and white and stark imagery employed are reminiscent of Lynch. I know that's an easy cop out with a lot of critics but the feeling is unavoidable. But the main problem I had with the film, much like the first, is that there isn't a strong impetus behind Martin's actions. Yes there was an abusive mother and father but it was such a thinly painted motive that it felt hollow. There was a long gap in history (from early childhood to present day) not to mention zero dialogue from Martin to help us fill it in or make us understand how he was feeling. Maybe that was Six's intention (again, very Lynch-ian) but some internal monologue would have worked wonders.

Overall, the film isn't as bad as most would have you to believe. But just like the first there isn't enough here to justify repeat viewings. However, curiosity will most likely get the best of me again and I'll see part 3.

Cortez the Killer


Ashley Shannon said...

I think I liked this film a bit more than you, and a lot more than the critics. As you say the film is not as gratuitous as one would expect and there is a very artistic shooting style. I really like the meta-narrative of the movie and thought it was clever that Martin was re-enacting what he saw in the film as a sattire to censorship and moral panic. Good review :D

They Made Me Do It

Planet of Terror said...

Thanks Ashley. Interesting take on Martin and the commentary that may have been going on. I didn't really pick up on that. I do think it's unfair that the film has been labeled as shock for shock's sake and nothing more. I think that's an easy thing to say given Six's previous comments and promises of outdoing himself.

ZedWord said...

Well, I can say this much. The casting is perfect. Also, although the bulk of the Screamwave podcast crew disliked the movie, it was the most talked-about of the two Human Centipede movies on our recent episode. Does this make it a good movie. No way. But it certainly makes an impression.

MarkusWelby1 said...

I always feel obliged to get in on the Centipede talk. I can't bring myself to watch this one. Dieter Lazer was about as perfect as a Mad Scientist could get in the first one, and I'm quite happy that most of the awfulness is only implied. I was a pretty staunch defender of the first one as it had a Frankenstein's monster kind of vibe to it with a great villain. It's my understanding that this guy doesn't say much at all in HC2 which kind of already deflates the possibility of him being a good bad guy for me. I don't think my curiosity will get the better of me for this sequel or further ones.

Erin said...

I get the comparison by critics, but if David Lynch ever decides to depict people in a line being forced to eat each other's poop then I will not want to live on this planet anymore.

Planet of Terror said...

@Zed, good point. I believe it does make more of an impression than the first but I don't think that's saying much. Perfect casting indeed.

@Markus, He doesn't say anything at all as a matter of fact. While it doesn't quite have the mad scientist vibe of the first, it certainly feels dirtier, grimy-er, and just plain nastier. And his physical appearance is supposed to be the main selling point as his as a villain. And to that end, well done.

@Erin, ha! Well said. He'd devolve into gimmickry And that would be sad.

The Film Connoisseur said...

I feel exactly the same way about these films...something about them just doesnt pull me in, but like you, I know I will eventually end up seeing them just to see what all the hoopla's about.

StraightToVideo said...

Good direction, but not too much else. I never thought I would be so bored with a movie filled so these kind of shenanigans.

Elvin Carpenter said...

I really prefer the first one. the second one going on the same plot so nothing new with that.

boxxxer said...

at premieres here in Sydney and melbourne, despite a few walk outs, the full cinema was pissing themselves laughing. at Sydney, the actor who plays Martin saw an audience member go to the bathroom, when she returned to the cinema he stood at the entrance in a bloody coat and terrified her.

for all it's polarising effect, you have to admire a man who lied to his creditors, milked one repulsive idea and made a huge impact (without many people even seeing the film). i thought HC1 was a great low budget comedy and HC2 even more so. though not everyone would appreciate his Schindler's List homage splash of colour to the poop

Planet of Terror said...

Boxxxer, thanks for sharing that story! That's actually pretty funny.

Interesting comments regarding how Tom Six was able to get both made. It is interesting to see how such a gruesome film and concept was able to be stretched this far and given a green light the 2nd time.