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The House That Jack Built (2018) Review

by Yo Adrian on May 21st, 2019 | | , , ,

The House That Jack Built was directed by Lars Von Trier (who also directed Antichrist) and stars Bruno Ganz (from Nosferatu The Vampyre), Uma Thurman (from Down A Dark Hall) and Siobhan Fallon Hogan (from We Need To Talk About Kevin). It’s about a serial killer who documents five of his kills, in an artistic and intimately realistic way, to an unknown higher power.

The House That Jack Built (2018) Review

The House That Jack Built isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s an arthouse movie first and a horror second, it’s also 2 1/2 hours long. The movie doesn’t follow the familiar three-act pattern, there’s no scary music, no mounting dread, no jump scares or anything formulaic for that matter.

So, as most horror fans know, there’s many different flavors of horror. Some movies are “scary”, others are shocking, others atmospheric. The House that Jack Built would fall under the realistic flavor (think Angst or Funny Games). It’s basically a deep dive into the mind of a real serial killer complete with plenty of metaphor (think Mother).

The five selected kills in this movie appear to be in chronological order, starting with what’s believed to be his very first kill. The movie makes the viewer privy to Jack’s thought process, emotional motivations and to his development curve. It really has the feel of a death bed confession from a killer with nothing left to hide.

All of this combine to make it more of an arthouse than a horror. There’s horrific scenes, make no mistake about that, but those scenes aren’t presented to be scary, they’re presented to be realistic, which is what’s scary. Jack is one of those guys who can get away with anything. He kills in broad daylight, in public and leaves evidence everywhere. But the situations he finds himself in all just happen to work in his favor helping him to get away scott free and feeling more confident to kill again.

And then there’s that ending! The ending is bat shit crazy to the WTF degree. It really goes off the metaphorical deep end. Like the entire movie itself, it really is a love it or hate it scenario.

Worth Watching?

Hard to say. I personally really liked it, but I tend to like realistic serial killer movies. If serial killing wasn’t the focus I probably would have hated it. It’s long, slow and intellectual to a near pretentious degree. The movie is about a serial killer, but a lot of run time is dedicated to discussions of architecture, wine making, music and to philosophical debates between Jack and a mysterious higher power. One aspect that I especially liked is the fact that The House That Jack Built starts off light but gets super dark. Throughout the first part of the movie I was thinking it was going to be tame, but near the end it starts crossing some taboos that you normally don’t see depicted so clearly in horror films.



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