The House That Jack Built
review by Bobby Blakey
There are few directors as unique or stirs up as much controversy as Antichrist and Nymphomaniac director Lars von Trier. If you have never seen one of his films they are often times tough to watch but always a stroke of brilliance on some level. His latest The House That Jack Built starring Matt Dillon sparked walk outs and negative reviews during festivals, but was it because of the content or the film itself? Now you can find out for yourself as Shout Factory is bringing home the director’s cut in all its bloody glory, but does it work or should it never have been let out the ice box?
The House That Jack Built follows failed architect and arch-sociopath Jack who recounts the elaborately orchestrated murders each, as he views them, as a towering work of art that define his “career” as a serial killer. I have to admit I love seeing films that cause controversy and the more disturbing the better. Not sure if I am just broken and jaded from watching so many movies or there is some darker love of horror and the bizarre, but either way this film was one I have been wanting to check out for some time.
I haven’t like very many of von Trier’s films mostly just because of the story elements never sucked me in, but this one was different. There is initially a very simple element to the story that plays out like something very normal, but takes a dark turn pretty quick. When following a serial killer a lot of times they try and make them sympathetic to the viewer, but not here. While his first encounter involves an appearance by Uma Thruman as a very annoying and unlikeable character the brutality of his actions makes it clear very quick that this is a horrible human.
As the film progresses it gets more and more aggressive with his kills including one sequence involving a mother and her young boys that will be hard to watch for most. Unlike most films featuring anything happen to kids von Trier has it front and center seeing what is done and no off camera work of implication. This is something that I feel is not fun to
watch, but also serves as the impact to the truth of what he does and remind you that this is an evil man not deserving of any sort of sympathy or remorse. You would think this would come off as the worst of it, but a later sequence during one of his few relationships takes an abusive turn and one that does not end well as you might expect.
The story is told through narration in an interesting way as it culminates with who he is talking to that takes the film into a bizarre direction involving a trip into Hell that kind of lost me for a time, but bringing it fully home makes it work all the better. This plays up in a very art house style and will not work for most, but if you have the stomach for it is one that will leave a lasting impression.
This is not a film I can solely recommend as the content is pretty messed up, but it’s also horrifically beautiful in the way its show and some of the disturbing imagery. If you hate or struggle to get through any of von Trier’s previous work then this is not for you, but if you are willing to dive into this experience then do so with caution knowing you are in for a ride that you won’t soon forget.
The House That Jack Built: Director’s Cut hits Blu-ray on February 4th from Scream Factory.
For more information or to get your copy head over to www.shoutfactory.com