The House That Jack Built – Denmark, 2018

The House That Jack Built is a 2018 Danish serial killer film written and directed by Lars Von Trier (Antichrist). It was originally conceived as an eight-part television series but developed into a feature film. It stars Matt Dillon, Bruno Ganz, Riley Keough, Sofie Grabol, Uma Thurman and Ji-tae Yu.

The plot follows the highly intelligent Jack (Matt Dillon) over a span of twelve years and introduces the murders that define Jack’s development as a serial killer.

The audience experiences the story from Jack’s point of view, while he postulates each murder is an artwork in itself. As the inevitable police intervention is drawing nearer, he is taking greater and greater risks in his attempt to create the ultimate artwork…

Lars Von Trier references Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932)

The film’s Cannes Film Festival showing prompted mass walkouts. The Guardian newspaper reported that “The scene which seems to have prompted the majority of walkouts is one in which Dillon’s character shoots two children at a family picnic in the head with a rifle. In another Keogh’s character is seen having her breast sliced off, while a flashback scene shows a child removing a duckling’s leg with a pair of pliers. Archive footage from concentration camps is also shown.”

Review:

“Even though we’ve had other films about serial killers in the past, The House That Jack Built is about something more significant; taking its viewer by the hand, it asks them to abandon their comfort zone and to recognize a world in darkness. In true Lars Von Trier fashion, The House That Jack Built is a tale devoid of hope, brimming with unease, and ready to shock the nerves.” Michael Pementel, Dread Central

“The world is f*cked” is a message you can read in countless places — von Trier is joining the discussion, but all his lurid, gory presentation can’t disguise that he has little to add. He even seems bored by himself, at one point illustrating a damning rant with a montage of older, better von Trier films. Upsetting scenes might make you look away, but there’s not much else to see here.” Olly Richards, Empire

“There is nothing subtle or artful about this film. Its plot and characters are hollow machinery created solely to deliver von Trier’s narcissistic musings, a Trojan horse “serial killer” movie that manages to be tedious despite its desperate need to shock.” Teresa Nieman, Screen Anarchy

Production:

Principal filming began in March in Trollhättan, Sweden, before moving to Copenhagen, Denmark.

Production company:

Zentropa Entertainments/Danmarks Radio (DR)/Film Väst

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