Now, I don’t know quite what it says about me, and I’m sure there will be many out there judging me for this, but I have something of a warped interest in the rather cult genre of horror films known as “gorno”. This usually surprises people (indeed, when I think about it, it rather surprises me actually…), especially considering my much more open adoration for the works of a Mr Walt Disney, along with pretty much anything Nickleodeon has to offer, but I think somehow it roots back to my childhood obsession with cheesy horror flicks. This in turn, being a Noughties teen, turned into meta-slasher, before finally evolving into a morbid interest in just how far the boundaries of shock can be pushed.
This has led me to watch a plethora of delights over the last few years, from Asian extreme flicks such as the censors’ favourites Grotesque and the Guinea Pig series (not as cute as it sounds) to the oh so very happy-go-lucky A Serbian Film. As such, I had been rather curiously looking forward to Tom Six’s third and final instalment in his Human Centipede trilogy. Having sat through and, shall we say “appreciated” the first two films, I was intrigued to see how Mr Six could possibly trump the schlock and shock of the genuinely unsettling second film. Turns out, he simply couldn’t.
There’s some genuinely smart stuff on display here, most notably the film-within-a-film-within-a-film concept, which is sadly undermined by having characters from the “within” films playing completely different characters in the film itself (that said, if you were going for a meta mind-f*ck Mr Six, that’s possibly the most confusing sentence I’ve ever tried writing). Indeed, as Dieter Laser, who so wonderfully played the doctor in the first film, prances around in his role as the prison warden, screaming every line in his over-annunciated German accent, you have to wonder if Six recast him simply for the meta value. In fact, his performance is so utterly grating, it will have any audience member wanting to sew his annoying mouth into the centipede themselves by the halfway point of the film.
There’s a certain level of disbelief in this final instalment (not helped at all by Laser’s campy performance) in that to a certain degree, the first two films seemed rooted in realism; we could somehow believe that somewhere in the woods an insane man could be cooking up this plan, or that a social outcast might try and copy what he had seen in a horror film, but to suggest that a group of medical professionals would go along with the idea of a prison accountant simply because he had watched a couple of DVDs is utterly absurd. Plus by this point, we all know that the “100% medically accurate” line is utter grubbiness, so why try and fob this one off as the most realistic when in fact it is the most utterly far-fetched. Then we have the “gore”, and it’s at this point I genuinely start to worry that I have become desensitised to on-screen violence.
The film was, quite simply, dull as dishwater. There was nothing that we had not seen before, and the “500 man centipede” that Six has been so boastful about, is no more than the very same CGI image seen in the trailer. The prison setting means that we do not empathise as much with the “segments” of the centipede; indeed, in Six’s rather misguided attempt at political satire, he does make us momentarily think that this might indeed be the solution to the prison system, though the punishment for those on death row is certainly rather squeam-inducing. Overall, I’m not quite sure what Six was aiming for here; it’s not scary enough to be a horror movie, it’s not schlocky enough to satisfy the gore-hounds, and it’s not quite political enough to be he allegory he seems to be going for. In the end, we’re left with a pretty mediocre B-movie featuring an over the top German and a retired porn star.
Well, actually, Miss Olson kind of made it all worthwhile…
Dir: Tom Six
Scr: Tom Six
Starring: Dieter Laser, Laurence R. Harvey, Eric Roberts, Bree Olson
Prd: Ilona Six, Tom Six
DOP: David Meadows
Music: Misha Segal
Run time: 102 mins