Listing the various ways in which The Human Centipede III deliberately provokes its audience by means of racial slurs, offensive stereotypes, and disgustingly detailed rape scenes only plays into director Tom Six’s clear intent to troll critics, so just take it on faith that all that is there. The gross-out gore scenes and poop jokes are there, too, as is to be expected. 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.
In keeping with Six’s love of meta self-mythologizing, the film begins with a clip from The Human Centipede II and revolves around the efforts of a prison accountant (Laurence R. Harvey, the star of the second movie) to convince his boss, warden Bill Boss (Dieter Laser, from the first movie) to subjugate the unruly prisoners under his command by means of “the first human prison centipede.” Boss initially rejects this idea—well, he doesn’t reject it so much as he is preoccupied with unchecked sadism—but eventually he comes around. That’s when Six himself shows up, to share his Human Centipede diagrams and collect such praise as “you’re more handsome in person,” in an appearance that would be more ironic had he not written it for himself.
But the worst thing about The Human Centipede III is that its 102-minute running time feels interminable. Long stretches of the film are given over to Laser ranting incomprehensibly, flicking his tongue like a lizard, and occasionally waving a gun around, something that is as about as entertaining as a blacked-out drunk crashing a party and berating the guests. (When he does get a word through, he utters such pithy dialogue as “Stress is for pussies,” so maybe it’s okay you can’t understand most of what he says.) The rest is just one clunky, boring dialogue scene punctuated with graphic torture after another.
During these scenes, one way to pass the time is to watch the supporting players milling around in the background and wonder what they thought about their experiences. Is the actor who plays the disgraced doctor as disinterested as he seems when he replies, “Yes, we’re all… aware” when Boss brags that he personally castrated a prisoner? How much did they have to pay Tommy “Tiny” Lister, who also played a tough-guy prisoner in The Dark Knight? Will Eric Roberts really do anything?
Various clues throughout the movie point to satire—the penitentiary in question is the George H.W. Bush State Prison, for example, and Six seizes every opportunity for a Nazi reference he can find. But if the director is actually trying to make some kind of satirical point, and isn’t just using this as cover for charges that his movie is a racist, sexist piece of trash, it’s a dumb one. The tagline for The Human Centipede III is “100 percent politically incorrect,” recalling a similar effort by a similarly desperate filmmaker, 2007’s Postal, billed by its director as “the most offensive movie ever made.” So congratulations, Mr. Six. You’ve become the gore Uwe Boll.