Note: this review may contain mild spoilers that deal with personal and frequently smelly bodily functions.The already-infamous horror film The Human Centipede was a gimmick the second it was born: by telling people what the film is about (a man who grafts three people together, ass-to-mouth) you were already doing marketing. Many people recoiled at the very concept, and with good reason, but for the most part the original film takes a very novel approach to some very basic genre movie conventions. While I'd never call it a masterpiece, I appreciated The Human Centipede for combining a slasher flick with a mad scientist story with a visual idea that is, quite simply, very disturbing. The film earned its expected parcel of outrage and controversy, which explains why nobody is surprised at all to see The Human Centipede 2 come lurching into view.
Whereas the first film offers weird humor, odd beauty, and a strange sense of off-kilter restraint with its patently disgusting concept, the sequel throws all modesty to the wind, and the result is one of the most overtly, oppressively, and depressingly puerile experiences you'll ever have with a movie. The premise, and that's me being kind, is this: a slovenly little pig of a man is more or less obsessed with The Human Centipede, and it inspires him to murder several people, kidnap the survivors, toss them into an isolated warehouse, staple their lips to someone else's ass, and do all sorts of other things that will drive to insanity anyone who makes the mistake of taking this junk seriously.
Not content to wallow in the "ass-to-mouth" fixation that he's now stretched across two films, director Tom Six has now taken to presenting hammer dentistry, sandpaper masturbation, barbed-wire rape, random knee surgeries, and a whole lot of crowbar head-cracking. Were any of this garish misery presented in support of an idea, a theme, or some sort of actual statement, a person (namely me) would have a lot less trouble with all the sweaty hatred and dank misery -- but there's nothing beneath the surface here.
By presenting the sequel's lunatic as a big fan / copycat of the original film, Mr. Six is offering one of three potential ideas here: A) that horror films are to blame for murder; B) that aspiring horror directors should never emulate Tom Six's work (as if that would ever happen), and C) that horror fans are dangerous freaking psychopaths. Any or all of these ideas could make for some astute satire or provocative social commentary, but such is not the case with The Human Centipede 2; it is more than content to be the indie horror flick version of a low-rent carnival sideshow: at first you want to see how much ugliness you can take, but eventually it all becomes too base, too grueling, and too miserable.
Whereas the first film set some highly unpleasant activities amongst some incongruously beautiful frames, the sequel is presented in a consistently dreary black and white presentation, and while the intention was probably to strike some obvious differences between the two movies, the result is little more than, well, dreary. Not disturbing or creepy or effective, just an eyesore. And once the third act carnage-fest kicks in, complete with copious amounts of doody, the black and white starts to feel more like mercy than an artistic choice.
With no point, no soul, and no reason to care, The Human Centipede 2 ends up as just another splatter flick that desperately wants widespread notoriety for its freakish disgustingness. Congratulations, it succeeds.