We are long past the era of Video Nasties, but there are a handful of films that continue to risk tweaking those same censorship nerves. A Serbian Film, comes to mind. As does The Human Centipede (First Sequence), and its 2011 follow-up The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence).
This self-reflexive sequel sees Martin (Laurence R. Harvey), a deeply troubled car park attendant, aping the events of the first film and attempting to craft his own horrific creation.
First off, Laurence R. Harvey (who’s deceptively adorable, if this FrightFest interview is anything to go by) makes for a fascinating screen presence, with his almost silent performance drawing the eye wonderfully.
And, there's an interesting character in there. Martin doesn't understand why people don't listen to him. He’s a lost soul, a man unable to find his place in the world around him . . . who takes it upon himself to set his own rules for once.
Harvey performance is even more notable when viewed opposite the rest of the cast. While many of the performances largely consist of groans and gaffer tape-muffled screams, there’s some pretty bargain basement acting here. Vivien Bridson, as Martin’s mother, is especially grating. She isn’t helped by Six’s uninspired dialogue, but I don’t think we needed anymore convincing that Six is a filmmaker driven by visual and ideas, rather than ‘unnecessary’ distractions such as dialogue.
And, don’t get me wrong, this is tough stuff, people. You get the feeling that Martin is really getting down and dirty. This is an oppressively muddy picture and the nefarious toolbox used here is light-years away from the precision-engineered surgical instruments of the first film. I must admit I was greatly reassured by the occasional glimpses of undeniably prosthetic bums.
The Human Centipede 2 is dirty, depraved and obviously very cheap, but there's an undeniable artistic streak that continues to shine through. Primarily in the attractive, and often very striking, black and white (and brown) cinematography.
But, and this is a big but(t), there’s a huge cascade of viscera and feculence that you’ve got to wade through to get to it. And, while I just about resurfaced on the other side, I can’t say it was a particularly pleasant trip . . .