The House That Jack Built

61 Going On...


21 December 2018| Comments Off on The House That Jack Built     by Sean Chavel


The House That Jack Built is Lars von Trier’s most OFFENSIVE picture, it is REPUGNANT, and yet I had a respect for it and got some food for thought out of it. It has perhaps the cruelest scene of any Von Trier picture, involving suggested vivisection of a particular delicate body part, that it cost me ample time before I was able to dust off my disgust and sweep it under a rug. There’s nothing wrong with sensitive or casual movie watchers that want cozy entertainment, it’s a lifestyle choice and I believe those types live happier lives. If a person doesn’t want to see this, they shouldn’t.

For those headstrong, those curious about avante-garde works, and those that have some kind of subversive philosopher deep within, then Von Trier’s latest is something to give a tentative try. Another qualifier: You should have probably seen a half dozen Von Trier films by now before you get to this one.

Amidst the carnage and vileness of it, what is there to think about here? A grab bag of thoughts: If Matt Dillon (who delivers implacably, the way he’s supposed to deliver in a role like this) doesn’t ever kill his first victim, he probably doesn’t ever become a serial killer who eventually slays sixty-plus people. We say no hastily to so many good people in our lives and yet a long-winded talker who is a serial killer can assume himself into our lives and we see the clues to stay away and yet we invite them in. Serial killers can feel so misunderstood, yet so brazen about their “talent” for killing, that they can make announcements about it and not get caught. We are so out of sync private and deaf to our neighbors that a serial killer could be under a lamplight carrying out his deed and we don’t bother to hear victims crying for help because we as neighbors often choose to live in our own opaque bubbles. Serial killers experiment, and their experimentation takes more of a higher priority than that of a person, whom there are so many people on the planet, that a few taken are deemed expendable to a serial killer. Serial killers are so arrogant and full of “higher consciousness,” that they probably believe that they could relentlessly continue what they’re doing and escape hell forever.

There could be another dozen thoughts like this that you will have during “The House of Jack Built.” Probably less thoughts than you had during “Melancholia” and “Nymphomaniac,” but enough of them that you cannot simply dismiss the film.

With Uma Thurman, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Riley Keough, Jeremy Davies and Bruno Ganz who is either a the most patient of head shrinkers, an oracle who has lived through all of history, a guardian angel, a purgatory gate keeper, or all four.

152 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “A Clockwork Orange,” (1971); “Natural Born Killers,” (1994); “I Stand Alone” (1998, France); “Antichrist” (2009, Denmark).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


There are No Comments about this post

Add Yours!

Comments are closed.