The first one was terrifying, evil and wrong. The second one was all of the above, but also excessively well made with some really good acting – not normal for these kinds of z-grade shockers.
The third one however is, well, boring.
The idea behind it is pure genius. Bring together the sadistic protagonists of the first two, put them in a prison, and well, the script writes itself. Or it should.
Midway through the film, when we’re still wondering if we’re actually ever going to see a Centipede in number 3, a prisoner eats his own excrement in his cell and begs the sadistic warden to be put into the centipede. “See I’m already eating shit,” he offers. For the purposes of this review he represents the viewer. The warden reacts furiously shooting him once in the head and once in the belly. “I don’t want anyone liking this,” he screams manically. The warden represents the filmmaker. Or he would if writer/ director Tom Six wasn’t so concerned about getting meta, or jumping the shark, or becoming Pharrell Williams, no longer content to be lurking in the background.
With DVD cases of the first two films getting waved around ad nauseum (Six is clearly concerned that placing the number 3 at the end of the title may not alert his viewers to the fact that there are two prior films), and even footage of the two films being played not once, but twice – we’re at real risk of worlds imploding.
But that’s not enough for Six, who appears in the film as himself – our two protagonists calling him in for some expert advice on the Human Centipede making. Eric Roberts also appears, and does a lot with very little as the Governor, and much of the prison population is made up of, “hey isn’t that the guy, from that show?” Again a departure from the first two.
Again it’s shot well, yet the major difference is an over reliance on dialogue and acting, and to be honest that’s not why we’re watching this film. It drags, with too much time spent in the wardens office watching him get progressively more depraved. Whilst Six is understandably attempting to delay gratification (as where else can you go when you’ve just shown a 500 piece human centipede?), the little shocks along the way feel forced and inconsequential.
No one is going to be offended by number 3. It’s trying too hard. All the flair, the gruesome black humour and the seamless transgressive plot developments from the previous two are gone here. If anything it feels like a cash in with an ingredients list that is actually bigger and better than the first two. Yet while the shocks are there, they’re rendered meaningless, because Human Centipede 3 is lacking the one important ingredient that I never until this moment realised the first two films even had: soul.