The House That Jack Built is a 2018 horror film written & directed by Lars von Trier (Nymphomaniac, Antichrist, Manderlay, & Dogville). The original concept was developed in 2014 & it was going to be a television series. It was produced by Piv Bernth (Bron/Broen, The Killing, Feed the Beast, & The Other World), Tomas Eskilsson (The Wave, In a Better World, The Killer Inside Me, & Wildling), & Peter Aalbæk Jensen (Nymphomaniac, A Royal Affair, Melancholia, & Dogville/Manderlay). It premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival & it was reported more than 100 audience members walked out during it. It was only given a single day limited theatrical release by IFC Films in America. It made $259,017 in that one day. It has been nominated for several awards. The budget was $9.9 million & it grossed $2.6 million worldwide at the box office.
It follows Jack (played by: Matt Dillon from Crash, Drugstore Cowboy, There’s Something About Mary, Rumble Fish, The Outsiders, Albino Alligator, & Wild Things), a serial killer with some artistic disposition. It goes over the course of twelve years & depicts the murders that develop Jack as a serial killer through 5 “Incidents”. Throughout the film he has side conversations with Verge (played by: Bruno Ganz from The American Friend, Downfall, Unknown, Wings of Desire, & In Order of Disappearance) in between the depictions of the incidents, most of which revolve around discussion of philosophy, ethics or Jack’s view of the world. Jack is driving down a road when he encounters a woman (played by: Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Be Cool, Gattaca, & Beautiful Girls) who needs to fix her broken jack for her car. He agrees to take her to a local Blacksmith, Sonny (played by: Jack McKenzie from Gandhi & Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back). Jack knocks on the door of another woman (played by: Siobhan Fallon Hogan from Forrest Gump, Men In Black, Dogville, Dancer in the Dark, & Saturday Night Live) & claims that he can help her with her dead husband’s pension.
His obsessions with trying to clean up every surface in the house nearly leads to his undoing as a suspicious cop comes by. Jack ends up giving himself the serial killer moniker “Mr. Sophistication.” Jack takes a woman (played by: Sofie Gråbøl from The Killing, Nikolaj og Julie, & Nightwatch) he is dating with her two sons Grumpy (played by: Rocco Day from Cannibals and Carpet Fitters) & George (played by: Cohen Day from Print) out for a hunting lesson. Jack meets Jacqueline (played by: Riley Keough from Mad Max: Fury Road, Under the Silver Lake, It Comes at Night, & Logan Lucky), a woman that he calls “Simple”, as he believes her to be stupid. Jack confesses he has killed sixty people at this point & is the serial killer “Mr. Sophistication,” but Jacqueline does not believe him. She escapes after the weird encounter & tells a cop but he thinks that she is just drunk. Jack continues his killing spree & executes his victims in a variety of ways. He builds a house out of all the corpses. Verge takes Jack on a journey to hell after all his sins. Can this real life monster survive this????
The House That Jack Built is brutal, creative, & one of the best films from 2018. It stays inside your head for days after viewing it. It kinda had an American Psycho tone to it. It had a great balance of horror & comedy which made it a much more entertaining experience. I am a huge fan of the serial killer sub-genre & this is easily one of the best ever made! Jack is a very dark & relentless character, one of the smartest psychopaths that you will ever see in cinema. Matt Dillon gives the performance of a lifetime as the lead here. I’ve seen most of his roles over the years & I’ve never seen him like this before. He is batshit crazy, I love how he plays with his victims in this. This is one of the last roles from the great Bruno Ganz, his chemistry with Dillion is off the charts. He adds so much to this being the advisor for the disturbed Jack.
It has various familiar faces for the talented supporting cast that includes Uma Thurman, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Sofie Gråbøl, Riley Keough, Jeremy Davies (Helter Skelter), & David Bailie (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise). It has so many intense & gruesome moments to make any horror fan happy. The actual house of bodies is a visual treat in itself, I haven’t seen too much of that in my life when it comes to film. As you probably noticed right away that it’s not a short presentation, I will say this feature should have been edited down for about 20 minutes less because it’s too long for what it is. Yes, I am talking about the ending for this. I understand what they were going for but I felt it was pretty bad & very unnecessary because everything was damn near perfect up until that point. I did enjoy the house reveal & more Bruno Ganz screen time from it. Lars von Trier is a one of a kind filmmaker, no one is like him when it comes to the film industry, All of his work is truly a unique ride, you never know what’s going to happen next with his material. I still thought The House That Jack Built was amazing despite the poor finale & it’s one of the best films that I’ve seen in a long time. HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Umbrella Entertainment! This 1080p (2.35:1) uncut transfer looks stunning on blu ray & it’s a huge upgrade compared to the U.S. DVD release. It’s the full uncensored version so nothing is edited here unlike other home video cuts of this film. As always, director Lars von Trier delivers on the visuals here. The cinematography really stands out in this format with a variety of locations & sets that shine. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a major improvement compared to other releases out there right now. The dialogue is very clean, all the insane moments have a killer boost to them, & the music is elevated on this track. It has no subtitles or extras. I have good news for everyone, it says Region B but it’s actually Region Free! It’s available at most spots online plus the Umbrella Entertainment online store. This is a must own for your collection, it’s one of those rare films in cinema that you have experience at least one time, CHECK IT OUT!!!!