When you’ve already created one of the most original and disturbing horror movies of all time and a sequel that takes it to the next level, the natural question must be “where do you go from there?” With The Human Centipede 3: Final Sequence writer/director Tom Six closes out his infamous horror trilogy with one final entry, a last trip into the sick, twisted world he created. So, does the final entry live up to high expectations set by the first two? Well, let’s discuss…
Using the same plot device that he did in the second film Six posits that this film is in fact the true reality and the other two are fictional movies in this world. Dieter Laser returns as prison warden Bill Boss and Laurence Harvey comes back as his accountant, Dwight Butler. When other forms of draconian punishment prove ineffective they decide to take inspiration from the notorious films and put the entire prison population into a massive, 500 person centipede.
The most noticeable change in this film is the drastic tonal shift from the last two, especially the second entry. Now, it should be noted that Six has always maintained that he sees the films as dark comedies, which is a strange claim indeed. At least that’s what I thought when I saw the first two, which are some of the most grim, brutal and disturbing cinematic trips you will ever take. The third however, is played for laughs…..
The general rule of thumb with movie sequels and TV shows is that once they start making fun of themselves they’ve run out of ideas and this film drives that point home, drives it home hard. Right from the onset where the central idea is recycled, to the constant self-referential nature of the film and the fact that Tom Six makes an awkward appearance as himself, the running theme is clearly ‘no one in this movie is taking this shit seriously’. And truly, they are not.
Laser is without a doubt the worst offender in this regard as he ditches the subtle, genuine menace of Dr. Heiter in favor of prancing around like a maniac and screaming all his lines. In addition, Bill Boss is less like a prison warden, more like Caligula as he snacks on dried clitorises, rapes his secretary and castrates, mutilates and murders prisoners with absolutely no legal repercussions. Basically, the film is played as a broad comedy punctuated by scenes of graphic violence. This idea may have been more effective if the film had at least been remotely funny.
This brings me to the fundamental problem with the movie. If you are going to jettison your previous format, you need to bring in something solid to replace it with. Since the world and the characters of this film aren’t grounded in any kind of tangible reality the situations they are in become far less engaging as you can’t take anything seriously. This results in irritation for the viewer as they simply wait for the next violent scene to alleviate the boredom that occurs when there is no solid plot to follow or well-developed characters to engage with.
In conclusion, it’s unfortunate that Tom Six didn’t try to push himself creatively to finish the trilogy strong and instead elected to smugly rest on his laurels and assume we would all be impressed merely by the fact that he fucking showed up. Even the violence, while graphic and generally creative, doesn’t really feel boundary-pushing or dangerous as it did in the second entry and wasn’t pushed nearly as far as it should have been. Overall, a tremendous opportunity wasted and while I found the film enjoyable enough to watch once, that doesn’t change the fact that the series would have been so much better off had this one never been made.