The Downfall of the Already Awful ‘Human Centipede’ Trilogy

Human Centipede

Source: IFC Films

Most any trilogy out there seems to have something that resembles a story arc. Both Star Wars trilogies, for better or worse, had a beginning, middle, and end. Lord of the Rings followed a very careful story over its three movie run. The same can be said for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films. But then there’s Human Centipede, a threesome of horror starting out on already shaky ground, that escalated into full-on pointlessness. When the base concept for your creative property is sewing people together, there’s really not a lot of places you can go. And yet, away Human Centipede III goes, existing out there in the universe as the torture-porn nightmare none of us asked for.

The tagline for the third installment, “100% Politically Incorrect,” cites the film’s self-awareness that they’re violating all sorts of common decency. But being aware that your movie is terrible doesn’t in turn make it any less terrible. In the case of Human Centipede III, it doesn’t even move the needle. Here we have a third movie in a series that never even demanded one sequel, much less the two it got. The first Human Centipede was at its best unique, and at its worst grotesquely unnecessary. The filmmakers meanwhile would hear something like that said and pat themselves on the back, and here lies the problem.

There’s nothing skillful or bold about a movie that revels in violence for the sake of violence. Even Quentin Tarantino uses it as a device to serve a larger narrative purpose. But when all you’re doing is trying to do is make people cringe, you’ve crossed out of the filmmaking realm and into a whole different territory that barely qualifies as halfway decent art. For the Human Centipede crowd though, it’s less about being “100% politically incorrect” and more about raking in money. The first installment cost only $1.5 million to make, while hauling in $252 million at the box office worldwide.

It’s no wonder two more movies followed, when the inaugural movie managed to turn that dramatic a profit. Since then, the people behind the franchise have dropped all pretense of trying to do anything but spend as little money as possible for as much profit. The similarly low-budgeted sequel still made $141 million, leading to a third movie that AV Club ripped as “a racist, sexist piece of trash.”

The direction is bad, the acting is worse, and it’s lit to mimic the soap-opera effect on a poorly calibrated HDTV. Basically, The Human Centipede III is an unsexy Ilsa movie, and it’s just as impossible to sit through as that sounds.

Simply put, there’s nothing subversive about lazy filmmaking. These movies will be remembered less for their dubious place within the horror pantheon, and more for their thinly-veiled attempt at trying to get noticed. In the end, they were noticed, and the people responsible successfully trolled an entire industry. They get to laugh their way to the bank for a trilogy of films that for all intents and purposes, shouldn’t exist in the first place. The filmmakers likely don’t care that they made the world of movies a slightly worse-off place for their creation. But the rest of the world sure can. For our role, we can rest easy knowing that eventually we’ll all remember this as a bad dream and nothing.

All box office data pulled from Box Office Mojo

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