As promised, last night I watched Human Centipede III (Final Sequence), or by the alternate title I gave it, Human Centipede III: Yelling at Stock Footage. I have something of a tradition with two of my friends. We discovered the first movie separately (I guess is wasn’t much of a “discovery” since it was pretty firmly in the popular zeitgeist for about a year (in the same way that Snakes on a Plane was a cultural phenomenon)) and after talking with one another we found out that we were part of a small subset of people who actually enjoyed it. Therefore, when we heard they were making a second movie in the series we planned a movie-date to watch it. Again, we were all shocked by how much we enjoyed it (though, in a completely different way from the first). Then there were rumors, plans, news (and delays) about a third one. We were on board. I’m sure this won’t shock anyone, but the film wasn’t great. Here’s the thing though, I actually think the first two films in the sequence (to use Writer/Director Tom Six’s vernacular) actually have some merit… at least, in the horror-movie area. I’m not saying they’re classics… nowhere near… however, I also think they don’t deserve to be a derided as they are. I have the feeling that these criticisms come from individuals who a) do not enjoy or appreciate horror movies (or at least a certain sub-genre of horror movies) and/or b) just saw the preview/read the synopsis. If you have a problem with body-horror movies (the most mainstream of which are the horror films of David Cronenberg such as The Fly and Scanners), these films are absolutely not for you. Also, I don’t blame you if you have a problem with body-horror movies… that probably means you’re a normally functioning human being… they are disgusting, disturbing gore-fests. I think the point I’m trying to make (rather clumsily and in an unstructured way) is that to dismiss the Human Centipede films is to dismiss an entire sub-genre of horror films (which, again, is understandable).
So, what did the third Human Centipede lack that the first two had. Well, it’s tough to put my finger on it, but my two co-watches made a couple of insightful observations. First, the movie is an hour and thirty minutes of build-up to the creation and reveal of the largest human centipede yet (500 hundred people, the film claims). The problem with this is that it’s something we’ve seen before (in the last two movies) so the build-up feels more like wheel-spinning. Second, the degradation factor that made the first two films so uncomfortable just wasn’t present here (which, to be honest, I was kind of okay with… as this is not one of my favorite areas of horror (more on this tomorrow with my re-watching of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)). It may be because there wasn’t any nudity in the film (which, is also okay, since the nudity in the first two films is probably the unsexiest nudity ever filmed) or because the victims were hardened criminals. This is not to say these individuals deserved their fate (which, is what the characters of the film are arguing (in a nose-thumbing way)), it’s just that they were all portrayed as tough-guys, so there wasn’t much in the way of terror, disgust or begging when their fates were revealed to them… just rioting.
In the end, you are left with a film that is less gory, less shocking, less interesting, and less fun (if you’ll permit me the use of that word) than the first two. Horror movie sequels should not go in the opposite direction. Now, to be fair, I think it’s important to mention that the film feels very intentional in what it’s doing. Much like the second Human Centipede is a spoof and take-off on the reaction to the first film, this segment seems to be doing the same thing with relation to the second. This leads to an intentionally bad B-movie. What this means in practice is overacting, bad acting, and non-acting. The most egregious offender is the star of the first segment Dieter Laser (playing a different role), who delivers most of his lines in a feral rage-scream. He seems to be doing a Colonel Kurtz meets Boss Hog meets Colonel Klink… while this may sound like fun, it is literally headache inducing (I had to take Advil after finishing the movie).
I was hoping my review would be pithier, but the movie didn’t give me much to work with. So I think my feelings on the film are pretty straightforward, but to be explicitly clear this should be skipped, even if (especially if) you’re a fan of the first two movies. The only thing positive I can say is that Tom Six strives, and achieves, to make each segment of his trilogy unique… but, sometimes standing out isn’t a good thing.