In the annals of modern horror, one (unexpected) franchise has drawn more revulsion, confusion, downright disgust, and a strange little place in the 21st zeitgeist above all others: The Human Centipede. Yes, the low budget little curiosity that was unleashed into the world back in 2009 became something of a cause celebre for bad taste cinema, and quite remarkably, spawned a sequel two years later that took Tom Six’s vision to even darker, sadistic places, stirring up even more controversy and the stomach content of viewers in the process. Now, the franchise comes to a close with a third and final film; a film that addresses the question of how do you top a film as grotesque as The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)…by making a film that is grotesque in an entirely different manner, emphasising humour and referencing the aesthetic and morality of classic exploitation cinema. The result is, quite frankly, an abomination: a misguided, indulgent and relentless moral void.

Set outside the fictional world of the films (just like the previous chapter), and in an isolated maximum security prison, where the unhinged warden’s struggles to deal with overcrowding and controlling the population of the complex lead to an unorthodox solution: inspired by the Human Centipede films, his accountant Dwight suggests they take the prisoners and form a 500-person centipede. Now, maybe this would be an interesting platform for a subtle comment on the nature of the American justice system and its fallacies…but here, it is treated with all the finesse you would expect from a man who conjured the concept of a human centipede in the first place, losing all sense of dimension and becoming an annoying and unsophisticated rhetoric, that while in part harkens back to the unsophisticated politics of 70s exploitation, becomes so repetitious it becomes obnoxious and just doesn’t work.

Tom Six’s approach to this final part seems to be making everything bigger, more colourful and more ridiculous after the grit and depravity that clung to every frame of the second film. In this sense, Final Sequence’s aesthetic shift gives the film a cartoonish tone, one reflected in the increased direct humour and the exaggerated performances. However, this being a Human Centipede film…this direction is pushed to its absolute limit and then beyond. What could have been a parodic venture becomes one of the most grating experiences I have ever endured. Arguably, it becomes an experience equally as horrifying as the previous films, but not because of any true graphic horror, but rather, the shock comes from just how little taste and quality actually is at play in terms of performance, narrative and integrity. Dieter Laser, who played the fiendish Dr. Heiter in the original Human Centipede, returns to play a new arch villain William ‘Bill’ Boss (I know…I wish I could say I was making this up) and delivers a performance that I can only describe as…deafening. I have never heard such loud, pronounced and extended proclamations in my life; at first, it’s unexpected and even a little humorous…and then when it continues again and again, all that is left is the dull ache in the pit of your stomach as you inevitably, almost masochistically prepare for the next assault on your senses. It is a performance unlike any other…and I hope it is never repeated for the good of mankind.

Perhaps the area of the film that is most irredeemable comes in the representation and treatment of the film’s central female character, Bill’s secretary Daisy, played by ex-porn star Bree Olson. Daisy exists in the film for seemingly one singular reason: to be abused. Personally, the most repugnant and offensive sequences of the film have nothing to do with the centipede, but the scenes in which Bill dominates her sexually, reinforced with sound design that truly makes them tough to watch. Aside from the obvious problem with such a representation, the biggest problem with the character comes in Six’s treatment, visually, of the character throughout. The casting of an ex-adult actress could have been used as a comment on the genre , but Six’s camera objectifies her, and Olson plays Daisy as a naïve and hopeless victim…one who would still bend over to get the files out of the bottom drawer rather than display any degree of tact. Her fate is unquestionably the saddest of the film, and even when it looks like she could escape Bill, she walks straight into another abuse. It almost feels like Daisy is a punchline, and whether Six would argue he is playing it to talk about the representation of women in ‘these’ types of film or not, it holds no moral value and at its worse is dangerously irresponsible on his part.

If there is one singular thing you have to give the film, it is the absolute uniqueness of it. While the sheer overindulgence and excessive nature of the film can be grating…there are moments where the film becomes so ridiculous you can’t help by find yourself laughing as it descends from one new low to another. The sheer overwhelming madness and commitment to going that extra step beyond the line of good taste does create something unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Ultimately, The Human Centipede 3 wants to appear bold and intentioned, but is in fact, indulgent and bloated, best summed up in its runtime of 102 minutes which only serves to reinforce how devoid of real ideas it is. One of the most crippling problems with the film is the fact that it acts so shamelessly and with such aggrandising intention in terms of its most offensive images and ideas…it doesn’t exist as a comment or even as joke on the excessive nature of the series and the audience’s engagement with it. It takes it so far that it just becomes insulting; the tongue in cheek, wink at the camera excess becomes purely an excess of trash, which tries way too hard to something knowing.

Of course, the truth is, to argue the idea of quality in relation to this film (and series in general) is a something of a misnomer. This is a film that doesn’t seek to do anything other than shock and disgust, and does so with glee. It’s not a matter of it being good or bad…it exists in its own mire of excessive ideology; it commits to the ridiculous and worships at the altar of the middle finger. Whether you like it or not, it truly doesn’t care. And perhaps there is something admirable in that sheer abandon…but in my opinion, the image of the poor souls comprising the human centipede has become the perfect metaphor for the putrid reality behind the initial shock of the films themselves: it leaves a bad taste in the mouth and they/we deserve far better.

Movie Review: The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)
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About The Author

Matthew Hammond is a full time cinephile, specializing in cult, art house and 1980s cinema. While film is his overwhelming passion, Matthew has been known to enjoy comic books, Sherlock Holmes stories and a good film related T-shirt. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments: