Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Oh, the horror: Human Centipede 2

By Dave Coffey

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It is often said that the gods have a sick sense of humor. This colloquialism must be referencing the god of sequels, because someone, somewhere, against all that is good about human nature and mathematic probability, uttered the phrase, “You know what needs a sequel? That “Human Centipede” movie. That doesn’t sound awful at all.”

Human Centipede 2 is the syrup of ipecac of films: it doesn’t taste good going down and it exists for the sole purpose of making the consumer vomit.

“The Human Centipede 2” is a meta-sequel to the infamous 2010 Dutch Horror film that evidently left some people gagging for more. The events of “The Human Centipede 2” follow the silent protagonist Martin Lomax (Laurence R. Harvey), a massively deranged fan of the original “Human Centipede” film who lives at home with his emotionally abusive mother. Martin’s turn-ons include long walks on the beach, feeding his pet centipede and kidnapping pretty people in an attempt to create a massive, 12-person version of the “human centipede,” a term which refers to the act of sewing several human beings together anus-to-mouth in a chain-like pattern. The entire plot of the movie centers on Martin stoically bludgeoning everyone he knows to death with a crowbar, and the grisly process of assembling his gruesome human centipede construct with a dozen helpless strangers in an abandoned warehouse.

This is one of those movies that is so bad that it serves a very distinct purpose for all horror directors: this is how not to do it. There is a difference between a decent gory horror flick and essentially watching a middle-aged obese man act out a snuff film. “The Human Centipede 2” is the latter. The film is far too obsessed with try-hard gore and over-the-top shock value to accomplish anything.

The overall tone of the film has a vague, undeveloped theme of “the weird, socially-neglected ugly duckling has his macabre revenge on the cold, cruel, good-looking populace of the normal world.” The film tries painfully hard to get the viewer to sympathize with Martin through its ham-fisted delivery of his character background filled with sexual and emotional abuse. The primary problem with this is it’s a little tough to feel empathy for the guy who gets off on beating up on pregnant women in parking garages and forcing people to eat each others’ feces.

What’s even worse is that the character development is so excruciatingly bad that the viewer can barely even sympathize with the dozens of people Martin brutalizes throughout the film. The violence in horror movies is supposed to viscerally convey emotion, whether it be rage or fear or vengeance or what have you. Viewing “The Human Centipede 2” is more akin to watching a teenager play Grand Theft Auto. It doesn’t matter how realistic the blood and guts look – just splattering them on the screen without justifiable context is meaningless no matter how far the director attempts to push the envelope.

Considering its hackneyed premise and asinine meta-narrative, the film certainly seems to take itself very seriously. Despite its inept shock-horror execution, “Human Centipede 2” misguidedly thinks it’s a quasi-avant-garde art-house thriller complete with raw black and white cinematography and a main character with no dialogue whatsoever. Presenting a completely silent protagonist that’s both convincing and well developed is no easy task – one that requires more depth and attention to detail than a film about stapling people’s mouths to other people’s anuses cares to afford.

By the middle, the movie even seems to get tired of itself. The whole insane process of assembling the human centipede which is supposed to be Martin’s diabolical masterpiece and the crux of the film is rushed into a montage that might as well had Ghostbusters-style ’80s theme music playing over it. After all the fuss, the 12-person human centipede is finally constructed (is this really a spoiler to anyone?), and the viewer is presented with a dozen bloodied human beings forcefully defecating into each other’s mouths. Surely this is some sort of super-edgy social commentary, one that is sadly lost on the audience since they are somewhat distracted by watching a dozen bloodied human beings forcefully defecating into each other’s mouths.

This seems like the sort of film that, if ever played, should be done so silently in the background of a Halloween party – all flash and no substance. Admittedly, watching an uncut scene of Martin removing his neighbor’s teeth with a claw hammer is a momentarily gripping and visceral experience. Then again, so is having someone defecate in your mouth.

Dave Coffey can be reached at [email protected]

 

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