The Human Centipede III [Final Sequence] (2015) - Can't Stop the Movies
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16Sep/150

The Human Centipede III [Final Sequence] (2015)

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Bill Boss is a violent warden with a growing prison population willing to risk death to teach him a lesson.  His assistant comes to him eagerly clutching two movies in a series called The Human Centipede.  If the inmates are out of control, why not put them in control with a few ideas from these movies?  Tom Six writes and directs The Human Centipede (Final Sequence) and stars Dieter Laser, Laurence R. Harvey, and Bree Olson.

What could go wrongMost people are able to chart their growth with metrics like charts, daily planners, and other observable results. Me? I’ve been charting my growth as a writer by looking back at my previous Human Centipede reviews. I reviewed the first when I was still very much a disciple of Roger Ebert and took a tongue-in-cheek approach to a film which, in hindsight, worked better than my somewhat sarcastic approach warranted. When I reviewed the second I was horrified by how willingly it took the baseline misogyny and violence inherent in the threats of an isolated part of the population and brought them to the extreme with little in the way of commentary.

Good horror can go to the extreme and still find something meaningful to say, either in the mere existence of the film or in its presentation. So I found myself at the end of The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence) faced with an extreme border and no reflection. (Final Sequence) made me physically ill, not because of the violence, but because of the degradation of everyone involved in its production.   It is a vile, nasty, pointless product made by someone whose idea of artistic growth is to regurgitate the very thing which vaulted him to prominence.

I still don’t know exactly how I feel now that it’s complete, but the closest emotional latching point I can muster is pity. Writer / director Tom Six found his niche and exploited it to its core then went further. The performers and creative talent behind the film didn’t have anything better to do, so they made this. So pity it is. Pity that someone with Six’s obvious talent behind the camera couldn’t come up with something new. Pity that the performers in front of the camera degrade themselves to a point where I felt sadness at how their talents are used. Pity that someone thought this was worth making and fronted the bill for its existence.

Six can direct, but it's now a more pressing question of whether he wants to make something of value.

Six can direct, but it's now a more pressing question of whether he wants to make something of value.

Six is not a bad director. He captures a certain kind of dusty western totalitarian prison feel which would be right at home in a typical drama. There’s a desperation to the visuals I almost respect, framing Bill Boss (Dieter Laser) as a man with a winnowing window of control first symbolized by the narrow hallway and arms grasping out from behind prison bars to get him. His release is quite literally through the wall of prisoners as he begins carving their bodies into whatever instrument he thinks will satiate his sadistic impulses. Artistically, sure, Six is consistent.

But consider the early scene of Bill shooting his gun toward the screen at us, the audience, as he screams for respect before collapsing on the floor. The subtext here is rich, because it could be Laser working through the previous frustrations at their partnership, or Six himself screaming at an audience to respect his work, or he could just be hinting that he will go to whatever extreme he needs to secure his audience. The latter seems the most likely in light of the extremes he goes to paint everyone onscreen as wretched and, yes, pitiable.

There’s a line between something reproducing racist images for the purpose of satirizing them, and it is one I don’t have much respect for. Using those images still imbues them with some sense of power, something Spike Lee explored brilliantly in Bamboozled, and acts as punching down rather than up. So Six’s decision to make every inmate in the prison a racist caricature lorded over by a fascist German-American obsessed with the flag, law, and order, it reeks of punching down. The stereotypes go from the now standard jihad terrorist screaming “Allahu akbar”, to a man of ambiguously Asian origin badly speaking in English, to the subtle visual queue of having a black inmate look like a violent clone of the gentle prisoner Michael Clarke Duncan performed as in The Green Mile.

Six clearly knows his visual history if he goes that far, and if so he would have been wise to interrogate the problems with that representation instead of continuing along this path. They are all wretched, screaming, sweating, nasty piles of dysfunction whose sole purpose is to be terrible. By trekking off so far into “ironic racism” (Final Sequence) becomes outright racist. This is before getting into the problems with the way Bill’s receptionist, played by Bree Olson, is treated. Olson is a former adult film star who has encouraged people to stay away from the business. In light of that realization, what to make of the moment Six films her in a degrading manner while pleasuring Bill? Still pity, because Olson shows some signs of genuine sweetness behind her performance and I can’t help but wonder what good that might have been put to in a different film. Instead she’s abused verbally, physically, sexually, and then humiliated as part of the same chain which began with Six’s first movie in 2010.

The only thing that saves Lasers performance from being the worst I have ever seen is his total lack of restraint.

The only thing that saves Laser's performance from being the worst I have ever seen is his total lack of restraint.

Gone is the cool and focused menace which gave the first film some genuine heft. Instead we have Laser, screaming almost all of his lines in a constantly wavering accent, while sticking his tongue out and covering himself in the inmates’ blood. I can’t say he didn’t go all out, but I can say that it is a wretched and embarrassing display from someone I know can do better. The true sadness is that statement can apply to everyone involved with (Final Sequence). They can do better, but choose not to.

Six appears as himself, reminding everyone of the cultural phenomenon of The Human Centipede, trying to wink at the exploitative hole he’s dug for himself. But he’s failed. I remembered disliking (Full Sequence), but had to read up and remind myself of just what happened in the previous film. Talking with friends they couldn’t even remember if they had seen it or not, and only sparked a reflection when I told them to think of a yellow prison with lots of blood and nearly endless yelling. Even the shock tactics Six employs here will be forgotten.

Horror has had a great few years. Go watch The Babadook, The Lords of Salem, Crawl or Die, It Follows, or reach into the recent past with Trouble Every Day. (Final Sequence) is only here to be forgotten, no matter how loudly Six may scream.

If you enjoy my writing or podcast work, please consider becoming a monthly Patron or sending a one-time contribution! Every bit helps keep Can't Stop the Movies running and moving toward making it my day job.

Tail - Human Centipede 3The Human Centipede III [Final Sequence] (2015)

Screenplay written and directed by Tom Six.
Starring Dieter Laser, Laurence R. Harvey, and Bree Olson.

Posted by Andrew

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