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  • Eddie Williams

The House That Jack Built - Written Movie Review


Tonight, I'm reviewing the 2018 Lars von Trier film, The House that Jack Built, starring Matt Dillon, Bruno Ganz, Riley Keough, and Uma Thurman. The story tells of a failed architect and vicious psychopath Jack (Matt Dillon) recounting his orchestrated murders, in which he views them as towering work of art that defines his life's work as a serial killer in the Pacific Northwest. I'm sure most of you know by now this film ended up being one of 2018's most controversial films, which resulted in many people walking out in the middle, showing disgust. Now I'm not familiar with any of Lars Von Trier' films, aside from Nymphomaniac (which I still haven't seen), so this is my first film of his. Upon seeing the film I have to say that it was very interesting and extremely well done. Pros : Matt Dillon nails his performance with perfection. One of his best performances of his career. He plays a very disturbing individual that truly shows all of his mental illnesses that he suffers leading up to him becoming a serial killer. Another thing I really liked about this was the writing. Usually it takes me being in the right mindset to get into these artsy films with exposition, filled with metaphors, and abstracts. Throughout the film, Matt Dillon's character tells his life-long story through incidences instead of chapters that has you thinking either he's being interrogated by a detective or if he is talking to an alter-ego living inside his head, which you find out towards the end, but I'm not going to spoil it. It gives us a perfect backstory inside Jack's mind in what made him become this sick individual. Jack sees his murders as a form of art and you see him try to justify it by comparing what he's doing to notable times in history of wars, genocide, and religion. I praise Lars von Trier and Matt Dillon on how well they dug into the mindset of a serial killer. It felt so real.

Now onto the controversial violence of this film. I've seen a lot of people call the grotesque violence being placed for shock-value and I heavily disagree. Yes it's extremely disturbing seeing animals being tortured, kids being mutilated, and women being killed gruesomely, but that's exactly what happens in the creations of a serial killer. It's not like they take you out for a cup of tea and then hit you over the head with something. Unfortunately, it's the harsh realities of our human history. The cinematography was absolutely stunning, especially how Lars Von Trier captures the Pacific Northwest wilderness and that beautiful rose red tone near the end. The film also has a pretty interesting ambiguous ending that has people talking for good reasons.

Cons : I do have a few problems with this film. The run-time is ridiculously too long. We're talking about a 2 hour and 40-minute movie. At times, it got boring because of that and there are scenes that seemed to drag on way too long. I can name a few scenes that were 20-minutes too long in one take. Von Trier should've trimmed some of those scenes down. Overall I thought it was damn good and its definitely a film you'll have to be in the right mindset to watch. If you're looking for a straight-to-the-point slasher movie, then you're going to be disappointed. It relies heavy on art, history, and metaphors. I highly recommend it.

Final Grade:

What were your thoughts on this film? Leave me a comment below and I'll see you on my next review.


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