Friday, 26 July 2019

Horror Review: The House That Jack Built (2018)


The story follows Jack, a highly intelligent serial killer, over the course of twelve years, and depicts the murders that really develop his inner madman.

The name Lars von Trier can be a divisive one, though there's no doubting it's one that brings notoriety.


If I'm honest I have a love/hate relationship and from what I've heard talking to others it's the same for them. I love that he pushes the boundaries to try and shock viewers but I've never been a fan of the way he goes about it. He's always been a bit too much on the 'artsy side' for my taste.

Despite this I was really looking forward to watching this, the plot of the film had me hooked and if I'm honest about it I fell for it's marketing campaign, I should know better by now but I was a sucker for what was being said about it. What Horror fan wouldn't when you're being told that this is not for the faint hearted and the like.


First of all I have to praise Matt Dillon, he plays the role of 'Jack' superbly, though I must admit that throughout the whole film he reminded me so much of Bruce Campbell but that's not a bad thing. But in all seriousness he truly was mesmerizing and he well and truly impressed me. 

The problem here was that for every scene that had me gripped I kept waiting for that 'artsy scene' to come around, and whilst there was subtle hints to it coming, it seemed to be all saved up for the films grand finale and that's where it all fell apart. I was well and truly disappointed, I hate it when the ending does that to me.


"The House That Jack Built" is a film that had real potential to be one of the best serial killer films made, it certainly did push the boundaries and was truly shocking but it just went in the wrong direction for my liking.



If you want to see "The House That Jack Built" trailer then just click on the video below:


Miscellaneous facts about the film:

The film had its world premiere at the Cannes International Film Festival on May 14, 2018. It was reported that more than a hundred audience members - including some critics - walked out during the premiere, though a six-minute standing ovation followed the screening. Some of the upset audience members continued to condemn the film on social media for its extreme violence and nihilistic tone.

The scene involving the main character's mutilation of a duckling when he was a child was done with the help of special effects, and the duckling was not harmed. Despite this, there was considerable audience backlash toward this scene, but PETA has defended the film in a statement, praising its accurate portrayal of the link between adolescent animal abuse and psychopathy. Animal cruelty is actually known to be a common trait among serial murderers, especially when they are young.

The 'Iceman' mentioned by Jack was contract killer Richard Kuklinski who committed over a hundred murders for organized crime syndicates. Like Jack, Kuklinski often kept the bodies inside a freezer for a while to make the time of death impossible to ascertain, a habit that earned him his infamous nickname.

The House That Jack Built (2018) was originally announced as an eight-part miniseries in September 2014 when the completed version of Nymphomaniac: Vol. I (2013) / Nymphomaniac: Vol. II (2013) premiered at the Venice Film Festival, but in February 2016, Lars von Trier announced via a David Bowie-themed video on his official Facebook page that "The House That Jack Built" would be his next theatrical release, due in theaters in 2018.

The Second Incident is similar to Ray Bradbury's short story "The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl" (1948) in which the murderer is obsessed with erasing every fingerprint at the scene of the crime.

The repeated shots in which Jack holds up large cue cards while standing in an alley are a reference to Bob Dylan's famous music video "Subterranean Homesick Blues".

The House That Jack Built (2018) will make its debut out of competition at the 2018 Cannes Film, seven years after Lars von Trier's infamous "Nazi" comments during the press conference for Melancholia (2011) resulted in his being labeled "persona non grata" and banned from the festival.

Von Trier split the filming into two parts to allow the opportunity for editing in between, something he has never done before.

The old nursery rhyme "The House that Jack Built" was quoted in Lars von Trier's feature film debut The Element of Crime (1984).
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The character with red gown "S.P." acted by "David Bailie" is a animated character of Lars Von Trier's first short movie "Turen til Squashland" when he is 11 years old.

The film references Lars von Trier's feature film debut The Element of Crime (1984). There is a scene in which the female lead, Kim (Me Me Lai), is first introduced, she is heard speaking the rhyme "The House That Jack Built". Like this film, "The Element of Crime" also concerns a serial killer.

The prestigious French film magazine 'Cahiers du Cinema' declared The House That Jack Built (2018) the 8th best film of 2018.

Lars von Trier explains the origins of this film as follows: "The House That Jack Built (2018) celebrates the idea that life is evil and soulless, which is sadly proven by the recent rise of the Homo trumpus - the rat king." [from 'Lars von Trier inspired by Donald Trump for new serial-killer film', The Guardian, Feb. 14, 2017]

The House That Jack Built (2018) marks Lars von Trier third collaboration with Siobhan Fallon Hogan. They previously worked together on Dancer in the Dark (2000) and Dogville (2003). As well as the third collaboration in the past 3 years she had with Matt Dillon starting with Wayward Pines (2015) the M. Night Shyamalan hit, Going in Style (2017) and now The House That Jack Built (2018).

The film has caused some controversy with the MPAA due to a November 28th screening of the unrated version at the Cannes Film Festival that is closely before the R-rated release. IFC Films is now facing sanctions over the screening for failing to obtain the appropriate waiver and a possible revocation of the R-rating.

Jack is an engineer who sees himself as an architect. He commits a series of murders in the Pacific Northwest. Matt Dillon also played a character in There's Something About Mary (1998) who was pretending to be an architect and was accused of being a serial murderer who operated in the states of Utah and Washington (Pacific Northwest). In both films there is a theme regarding the decomposition of bodies.

A few times Verge says to Jack: ''Do you want me to show you the way to the next whiskey bar?''. This is referencing most popularly The Doors' 'Alabama Song', which in turn is a rendition of an opera song of the same name, written originally in German by Bertolt Brecht.

Lars von Trier's fourth film to be distributed in America by IFC Films, following Manderlay (2005), The Boss of It All (2006) and Antichrist (2009).

Although not easily noticeable, Korean cinema icon Ji-tae Yu has a role in this film.

It has been questioned whether this film could be the third part in Lars von Trier's USA trilogy, which included Dogville (2003) and Manderlay (2005) but was never finished. Originally, Washington was announced as the trilogy's third installment, but as of 2019, it has not yet entered production.

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