It’s sometimes hard to tell how much spite is behind any given Lars Von Trier film. But the Danish director can generally be counted on to show little mercy to his audience – as is once again the situation with this shock-value-violence thriller.
Indeed, The House That Jack Built is serial killer fare that doesn’t much go in for redemptive arcs. Curiously, it could readily be viewed through a metaphorical lens – a possibly autobiographical one. In it, Matt Dillon proves he is still a visceral force onscreen. He’s the unremitting psychopathic killer; yet there’s something artistic, perhaps even literary, about his methods. After all, this is a character who never realized his dream of being an architect (see: title) – shades of der Führer.
And speaking of, the ever compelling Bruno Ganz rises to the challenge as what would seem to be Jack’s quasi-conscience.
The violence, be warned, is barbaric to the point of gratuitous – unless one is able to accept it as cautionary. But again, morality does not seem to be what Von Trier is on about here. Very likely, the controversial auteur is throwing this in our faces, as a way of explaining his own struggle against the “evil” commercial forces of the filmmaking industry. Thou shalt not kill – but instead, make movies about killers, you know, to make a point.
As if it even need be said…keep the kids away from this one.
The House That Jack Built opens December 14, and also stars Riley Keough and Uma Thurman.