If you are looking for a contested horror franchise, it would be hard to find one more polarizing one than THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE. From the sterile and groundbreaking to first film to the black and white artistry in the second, the grotesque digestive horrors from the depths of director Tom Six has left audiences dry heaving, clamoring for more, or both. As an enormous fan of both preceding films, I was looking forward to the third and final film in the trilogy. Maybe my high expectations got the best of me because I left the theater underwhelmed and sleepy.
Riding the meta plot device first introduced in the sequel, THE FINAL SEQUENCE throws us into a world where both previous film exist. We start in a Texas prison. Dieter Laser returns as Bill Boss, the warden of the prison, and Laurence R. Harvey his accountant, Dwight. With prison funds being tighter than ever, Dwight brings DVDs of HUMAN CENTIPEDE 1 and 2 to Boss’s attention as a unique way to solve their budget woes. Much like the first two films, the plot of part 3 is uncomplicated, relying on performance and effects to bring the audience reactions.
Laser’s performance as the cowboy-hat-wearing warden oozes camp. In just the second scene of the film he is kneeling on the prison’s floor, repeatedly screaming, “Respect!” while firing his six-shooter in the air. While Laser’s over-the-top performance is one of the major strengths of the first film, the scene chewing in this film is unending and tedious. All of his lines are shouted with a steady fervor, which combined with his German accent makes the actual dialogue incomprehensible. Like Spinal Tap’s amplifier, he is always turned to eleven. The singular note is grating.
The film does get interesting when they finally get around to making the centipede. Pushing the boundaries of ingestion and medical science, five hundred inmates, and one dim witted secretary, get strung ass to lips across the prison yard. Watching the physical mechanics of the operations is as interesting as always and certain new surgical procedures are introduced. Six somehow manages to know that his audience is at least expecting the body horror in the film to be engaging.
Where Six missed the mark in Human Centipede 3 is the pacing of the plot. For every claim made again the franchise, boring is the worst thing I can fathom, and this is a largely boring film. It seems to think that a screaming warden and bumbling accountant makes for good cinema for the entire first hour. Between the lack of action, predicable relations with the secretary—and only female character—and the absence of any character development past caricature, the film is lackluster. It is void of the atmosphere and mood created in the previous films, and it suffers from this void.
The one interesting aspect of this film is the heavy handed themes it deals with. It’s obvious criticism of American’s penal system, political structures, and ‘Merican good ole boys would make for an interesting study of the film with an academic gaze. The imagery is intentional and powerful even though it is not an entertaining watch. If I had an interest in sitting through the film again, I’d pay more attention to the film’s message instead of merely hoping it was over.
I had such high hopes for Human Centipede 3. I wanted to love it like I love the first two films, but instead I was simply not impressed.