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Tom Six is in direct dialogue with his audience, and while
the highly anticipated sequel to his veritably vapid cult sensation isn’t
perfect by any means, it’s incredibly interesting and exciting to see something
responsive and engaging (and visually striking to boot) from the filmmaker.
Uneven in its aim, it seems as if Six is aggressively
addressing both his detractors and his supporters in FULL SEQUENCE, essentially
shouting, “This is what you wanted, and now that I’m giving it to you, you’re
going to regret it.” It’d be simple to criticize and say he’s having his cake
and eating it too, reveling in the brutality and purposeful obscenity while
seemingly making fun of its audience for demanding it, but the deliberate
choice of black-and-white cinematography makes it difficult to dismiss the film
as such. It’s almost a grosser, less intelligent Michael Haneke at play, but it’s
much better to see a Six with ambition than the high camp/one note director we
were previously introduced to.
Firstly, it’s not as off-putting as you’ll likely hear. Even
the worst of it—most of what’s outlined in its BBFC banning—doesn’t last for
more than a few seconds and it’s doubtful there will be a deeper impact than
passing disgust. The film steps outside of its universe in seeing a seemingly
mentally challenged obsessive fan of FIRST SEQUENCE put its practices into
crude, sexually gratifying use, even one-upping Dieter Laser by attempting a
twelve-person centipede. Martin (Laurence R. Harvey) is more disgusting than
his actions, to be blunt. His intent is what’s truly off-putting, as the
excellent Harvey’s eyes and Joe Spinell-like sweat glands clearly delineate the
squalor behind them.
As previously mentioned, Six is taking on a lot here and
Martin is the epicenter of it all, standing in as an extreme example of those
who complained the first film wasn’t as graphic as desired or promised (guilty
as charged), but also poking fun at the concept of sequels itself (more of the
same, just even more!) and cinematic serial killers (Martin is reclusive,
unsanitary, has an abusive, psychotic mother and was touched inappropriately as
a child. It’s all there!) as well. Six is asking if those who complained about
his previous effort realize they might be as depraved as what they’re viewing.
It’s no doubt a question posited countless times before from filmmakers, but it
doesn’t fail here.
CENTIPEDE II is hilariously outlandish and seriously
striking in its visual palette. Much more impressive than the first, the black
and white lends itself to the horror on display, pushing it to melodramatic
heights. Six and cinematographer David Meadows’ wide shots of the full sequence
itself are gorgeous and leave a lasting impression. One image in particular, in
which Martin’s creation emulates its insect counterpart, becoming monstrous and
hostile, feels epic and is almost worth price-of-admission alone.
Does Six become muddled in his own mad scientist-like
artistry, caught up in the hype and excitement of taking on his viewers? Yes.
The film has logistic issues and because there isn’t much of a connection with
the victims on hand, its specific attempts at crimes against your eyes don’t
feel as awful as they’re meant to be. Still, it’s much more electrifying that
FULL SEQUENCE is about something, and that its maestro is shooting squarely at
those who watch his work, using his art form as means of expression and
conversation, instead of internet commentary.
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