Written and Directed by: Tom Six
Starring: Dieter Laser, Laurence Harvey, and Bree Olson
Reviewed by: Brett Gallman
"Jesus Christ. I fuckin' told you these movies would be shit and they are pure shit literary. They Stink!"
Iíve discussed the perils of filmmakers buying into their own hype before, but one of the most refreshing (and surprising) things about The Human Centipede II is that Tom Six actually restrained himself from doing this. Sure, you might see its nigh-pyrotechnic display of vomit and excrement and wonder if he didnít indulge himself too much, especially since the sequel seems to be obsessed with topping its predecessor. However, it does so not for the sake of overindulgence; rather, it seems to be directly aimed at critics who read too much into the original filmís concept without recognizing how silly it actually is. For those who wanted to see what a grim, gritty, truly disgusting take on The Human Centipede would look like, then the Full Sequence would unleash just that (with a healthy side of admonishment for the absurd notion that media violence begets actual violence).
The only problem with this is that it really left this franchise nowhere to go: The Human Centipede II is so unabashedly over-the-top that any follow-up would likely seem even more juvenile. Never one to know when to quit, though, Six has returned to push his luck once more with Final Sequence, a film that winds up being such a chore that you hope it lives up to its subtitle. It confirms exactly what one might fear in the wake of Part II: with nowhere left to go, this franchise appropriately goes right up its directorís asshole.
If that sounds unpleasant, just know that the film does little to assure you that Six has anything new up his sleeve almost immediately. In a repeat of the previous filmís opening gag, itís revealed that, yes, The Human Centipede II is also just a movie, one thatís being watched by sadistic prison warden Bill Boss (Dieter Laser) and Dwight Butler dumpy assistant (Lawrence Harvey). Boss dismisses it as B-movie garbage and somehow fails to see the inherent value in what an actual human centipede could do for his prison, which is racking up enormous medical bills because he keeps torturing the inmates. When the governor (Eric Roberts) catches wind of the situation and chews Boss out, Dwight finally suggests that the prison should implement its own centipede in order to cut down on costs and recidivism.
In what amounts to one of the few interesting decisions here, the characters then proceed to spend most of the final Human Centipede movie talking about creating their own twisted variation on the theme. At this point, Six clearly knows his concept is the draw and keeps his climactic version behind the curtain for most of the film, which plays up the trainwreck quality of these films: no matter how ghastly the actual centipede is, you canít help but want to see it. Withholding it creates a sense of anticipationóin theory, at least.
Theory doesnít exactly make it to practice, though, as the void left by the gruesome centipede is more than adequately filled by Bossís various tortures, which graduate from savagely breaking an inmates arm to boiling waterboarding to castration. If that werenít enough, Ball casually tosses about racial slurs, treats his secretary (Bree Olson) as a glorified sex slave, and eats preserved clitorises imported from Africa (while singing the praises of female genital mutilation). The Human Centipede III is less a movie and more a cinematic form of fuel looking to power a Twitter outrage machine for months on endóif anyone could even take it seriously, of course.
But thatís never really been Sixís aim with this franchise, even from the start. The first film admittedly had a clever gag in that it tricked viewers into imagining something more disgusting than what was actually shown, while the second one was even more biting in its satirical humor by going overboard. Like any joke, however, it begins to lose potency, especially when the only punchline is ďlook at how offensive I am!Ē The Human Centipede III isnít a movie so much as itís an Aristocrats joke, and not a very good one at that. Ironically, Six himself sums it up best during his extended cameo, when he pukes at his own carnage. Even he seems sick of this shit.
You have to wonder if that isnít his real joke here. Six knows heís stretched this concept and bled it for all its worth, so the only thing to do is keep poking at the corpse. When he first appears here, the scene takes on the tone of a studio board room meeting, with Boss acting as a pitchman and Six essentially signing off so long as he can watch. Heís effectively reduced himself to the role of an executive producer, looking for a credit without actually doing anything. Judging from The Human Centipede III itself, itís not hard to consider that maybe art imitated lifeÖwhich, of course, is just sort of imitating art in the perpetual motion machine that is the Human Centipede series.
At one point, it seems to be pretty obvious that itís Sixís goal to completely blow up his own creation. When one inmate seems to be a little too eager to participate in the prison human centipede, Boss fires a bullet into his brain. ďI donít want anyone liking this,Ē he insists as Six watches on in the background. I donít know that Iíve ever seen a creator barely contain his contempt for his own workóand itís not even like anyone forced Six to make this sequel (in fact, he was already enthusiastically warning audiences about how depraved it would be at the second filmís premiere). Sometimes, franchises go off page and essentially rebel against what made them work in the first place, but itís rare to see one purposely rip its own guts out to pretty much guarantee that no one would want to see another entry.
If The Human Centipede II was a joke at the expense of critics of the first film, then the third one takes the piss out of anyone who ever liked anything about these films. I am almost in awe of how purposeful this seems, right down to bringing back Laser (who crafted one of the most indelibly fucking awesome horror villains in recent memory) only to have him turn in a performance that grates with every pained, agonized line delivery. Nearly every word feels like itís been painfully extracted and passed onto viewers through a thick, sometimes impenetrable accent. The goal here doesnít seem to involve sketching a villain thatís more despicable than the infamous Dr. Heiter but rather one thatís infinitely more annoying. (Mercifully, Harvey didnít seem to receive the same memoóhe is sort of quietly, desperately hilarious as the assistant, who feels like he could be a charming old southern gent if not for his human centipede fantasies).
With The Human Centipede III, Six has achieved an ouroboros of sorts, as the tail end of this franchise looks to consume any of the previous filmsí good will. He takes the concept of making a purposely bad movie to another levelóthis isnít an exercise in inspiring snark or irony-soaked viewings. Instead, I truly believe Six wants you to hate every single frame of Final Sequence, which becomes an endurance test of casual racism, misogyny, and torture. Only the insinuation that he doesnít want anyone to enjoy it justifies just how much of a bore it is. Weíre trained to be skeptical about ďfinalĒ entries in horror franchises, but itís clear that Six is so over this franchiseómaybe his audience should be, too.
After a VOD debut earlier this year, Final Sequence arrives on physical media with both a standalone Blu-ray release and as part of Scream Factoryís Complete Sequence collection. Both discs are identical and feature a commentary with Six, a 26-minute making-of featurette, deleted scenes, an alternate ending, a still gallery, and two trailers. Additionally, the box set features newly-produced extras for the first two films (while retaining the features on the original releases). Among them are a 45-minute retrospective focusing on the women from the first film, a full-color version of the second film, an alternate poster gallery, and Harveyís audition tape. The good news is that this represents a definitive collection for The Human Centipede; the bad news is that youíll watch a decent, interesting franchise regurgitated down through its own digestive tract until youíre left with a film so psychotically terrible that I hope it even given Eric Roberts (whose IMDb page boasts over 70 credits for 2015 alone) some pause before he signed on.
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