Overview: A bunch of people are sewn together, ass-to-mouth. IFC Midnight; 2015; 102 Minutes.
Preparation: There’s a pervasive school of thought employed by many critics that states that a film can only be judged by what it attempts to be, thus eliminating any notion that there can be a singular standardized way to measure all movies. I’ve never been able to buy into that and I’ve never felt comfortable using any version of the sentiment “it’s good for what it is.” I have, of course, a long-winded rationale ready to support my rejection of this critical approach, but now, thanks to The Human Centipede 3, I no longer have to waste my breath on this. The existence of this movie stands as an explanation for why one can’t give positive credit to every movie that achieves its own established goals.
Consumption: Both Tom Six and his now infamous The Human Centipede series are unlikable by design. In the series’ first entry, the shock value of the disgusting premise extended mostly to the boundaries of marketing and concept, while the film as a horror product was pretty average and at times praise-worthy. The first Human Centipede at least offered a somewhat reserved body horror exercise driven by an intriguing and frightening mad scientist villain. This time around, neither of those achievements are approached. The villain role here is a maddened prison warden by the name of Bill Boss, played by Dieter Laser. Laser’s performance is one note — one growling, senseless, angrily constipated note — and interest in the character runs dry before the end of his introductory scene. The “procedure” in this sequel is discussed in more crude terms than the mostly medical language used to provide exposition in the first, and subtlety is completely abandoned when Six allows his cinematographer David Meadows to explicitly explore the fine details of surgery and wounds. All of this is captured in a frame of lazy affectation. Six exhibits no desire to construct a convincing narrative and his half-committed actors and their situational arrangement establish loose and lazy filler material to bridge one vapid shock appeal stunt to the next.
Digestion: I want to be careful in my assessment of this film experience. Because of the malicious intent of the film and its asshole director, to explain the movie in accurate descriptive terms would be to license its ambitions and designate the movie a success, which is not something that I feel it deserves. The Human Centipede 3 just should not exist. If I were to rail against the blatantly abusive treatment of the movie’s only female character, Daisy (Bree Olson), then I would be providing just the reaction that Six hoped for when he included exaggerated levels of misogyny. If I highlighted the narrative’s ableist treatment of a prisoner with a stoma and another with Crohn’s disease, then I would be supplying the reaction that such immature provocation seeks. And in terms of the central shock value concept, when gross-out efforts are so intentional and obvious, then they are doomed fail. In terms of content, the effort to disgust in this film are just pitiful, the equivalent of a bratty child who, self-satisfied with his first class disruption, shouts the same material louder. Where the series started with uncomfortable suggestion, The Final Sequence stares where it should suggest, offering close up shots of injuries, and gunshots, and even threaded rectums. So, The Human Centipede 3 comes across as a spoiled 12 year old’s attempt to emulate the first, which was already probably more juvenile than it should have been.
Defecation: Far be it for me to suggest that my own ideals of art should outweigh the goals of any artist, but I can only review within the boundaries of my subjective philosophy. Further, I don’t like judging the character or value of an artist based upon his/her individual tastes. But I can’t help thinking that no one who loves and respects the power of cinema would create this movie. This is such a distinctly hateful exercise of self-involvement, hateful toward humanity and its medium. I can’t imagine anyone speaking positively of this movie for any reason other than advertising that they are one of the exclusive few who claim to enjoy it (though, I would posit, what they really mean to say is that they like saying they like this movie). To those individuals, I would like to suggest that there are any number of hobbies outside of film and that they should pursue one that they actually enjoy.
So, ultimately, I won’t be be providing a final grade for this movie, as I refuse to be duped by an artless sophomoric provocateur. Tom Six wants the F, he doesn’t deserve the A. And the film doesn’t deserve an audience.