When Dutch director Tom Six first brought The Human Centipede (First Sequence) to theaters and on-demand services last spring, its reputation preceded it. The story of a German mad scientist who uses, as the promotional materials promised, “100% medically accurate” procedures to stitch three victims together into the horrifying eponymous ass-to-mouth creation, it caught on first as a festival buzz item and then as an Internet meme, inspiring everything from jewelry to an episode of South Park. It was also more talked-about than seen, in part because the movie itself, gimmick aside, was pretty standard horror stuff, distinguished only by its insane premise, Six’s efficient-enough direction, and a goofy lead performance from Dieter Laser as the proud creator of the human centipede. Now, a year later, after the jokes have gotten old, here’s the sequel.
The first Human Centipede had audacity on its side. Human Centipede II has only excess. Set in a world in which The Human Centipede (First Sequence) exists as a film, the sequel follows an obsessive fan (Laurence R. Harvey, a sort of shorter, fatter, less glamorous Toby Jones) whose job as a security guard in a London parking garage allows him ample time to watch the film over and over again, sometimes simultaneously masturbating with sandpaper. Then he returns to sleep in the squalid flat he shares with his mother. Eventually, not content with merely watching the film, he decides to recreate it, abducting unsuspecting customers and stashing them in an abandoned warehouse space. His goal: to top the original film by stitching together 12 victims, despite a lack of medical knowledge and a seeming inability to talk.
Human Centipede II features a pair of clever, though twisted, ideas. One involves Ashlynn Yennie, an actress from the first film who here plays herself, somehow lured by Harvey into flying to London under the false pretense of auditioning for a Quentin Tarantino film, then forced to experience in real life the horror she played onscreen. The other involves Harvey’s crude attempts to compensate for his lack of surgical skill with a staple gun and duct tape. But any sick wit gets drowned by Six’s oppressive approach, which piles on one “Can you take it?” gross-out moment atop another. Even those who can take it will be left wondering why. Note: The film is shot in merciful black and white, apart from one scene involving a highlight color. Said scene involves laxatives.