The House That Jack Built Review - A Shocking Mash Up of Horror Tinged With Humor

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The House That Jack Built, from Zentropa Entertainment and IFC Films, presents the story of Jack, an intelligent architect, and Obsessive-Compulsive serial killer who pin points five moments that changed the course of his own quest.

Directed and co-written by Lars von Trier, The House That Jack Built stars Matt Dillion, Bruno Ganz, Uma Therman, with Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Sofie Grabol, Riley Keough, Jeremy Davis, Jack McKenzie, Ed Speleers, David Bailie, Mathias Hjelm, Emil Tholstrup, Rooco Day, Cohen Dau, Ji-Tae-Yu, Osy Ikhile, Christian Arnold, Johannes Kuhnke, Jerker Fashlstrom, Robert G. Slade, and Robert Jezek. Story by credit Jenie Hallund.

The House That Jack Built, a loose adaption of aspects of Dante's Inferno, begins with a darkened screen and a conversation with Jack, played by Matt Dillion, explaining he isn't feeling well and Verge, played by Bruno Ganz, an unknown companion explaining it must be the acid.


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With that Jack begins his story. Verge, who replies retelling the story isn't necessary and we find Jack sincerely wants to unload and begins by indicating that over the course of the last twelve years there were maybe five incidents that shaped him.

We cut to live action and on a cold winter road somewhere we see a smartly dressed Uma Therman, stranded, with broken tire jack in hand. It seems our damsel in distress has a flat tire. She talks her way into the vehicle and begins to badger Jack by telling her version of why she has just put herself in harm's way, and clearly he could be a serial killer.

Obliging her and trying to make sure she gets her tire fixed, he goes out of his way several times as the tire jack is cheap and breaks when pressure is added. As they enter the third trip she again mercilessly badgers him with the possibility he could be a serial killer and then emasculates him when she explains he couldn't stomach the actual kill. Instantly he picks up the jack and strikes her several times in the head.

That is ground zero, Kill 1. As he explains in voice over his meticulous next steps of freezing the body, cleaning his car, hiding hers. From that point on Jack is a killing machine. The scent of blood, like a shark, is enough to ignite a hidden passion.

We find Jack is intelligent, an architect, and is building his own home as he was the sole inheritor of a substantial sum. His parents are dead and he neither real friends nor a wife, or lover. He is alone, and void of real human interaction.


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Jack is also diagnosed Obsessive-Compulsive, and we see this flare up after his second kill. Following a middle aged women, played by Siobhan Fallon Hogan, home and attempting to talk his way inside. She almost escapes until he hits the vein and persuades her that he can actually get her pension increased double.

Money was her motivator and within minutes after she let him into her home, he switches into killerand strangles her. Attempting to bleed her out at her home, proved messy and simply too much for his OCD to handle. Once she is dead, wrapped and in the back of his van. Just as he is preparing to leave, repeated scenes flash in his mind of blood splatter patterns in various locations that he has missed and with each false vision he is back inside searching her home for blood.

We see several more murders, a hit and run, a coed, a woman and her two children and by the he has gotten to Simple, played by Riley Keough, he explains he was a little more attracted to her than the others. So he toyed with her. She manages to escape once and even notifies police that he said he murdered sixty people or sixty-one. Dismissed as a flake the officer nearly cites her for being drunk.

The House that Jack Built plays like fifty way to kill your lover. We find Jack rarely strays from strangling after the debacle of Murder 2, too much blood. He occasionally believes he is teaching his victims a lesson in life before he kills them.

The film is crafted so throughout the murders, the audience is fed contrasting pictures. At times the director has intentionally added a "brain scrambling" frame, a static, meaningless, random numbers running quickly and other times we see fine artistic expression, scenes of great works of art to balance the macabre and offset the gore

We also find that as the killings increase he becomes frenzied, not the actual murder, and taking chances becomes the thrill as much as the murders.


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As it is loosely based on Dante's Inferno, we also see the interpretation of Hell, the fathomless pit of never ending fire which is depicted by a flowing river of hot, molten lava. The film may seem scattered, as the refresher frames, like cleansing the palette in between courses at a wine or food tasting, were at times distracting and equally disturbing.

The House that Jack Built, is a shocking morbid tale of grisly, mutilated, distressing violence. The moments of humor weren't lost and did stand out. The director also clarified the "setting" as our killer gave himself that moniker of Mr. Sophistication.

The House that Jack Built opens December 14, 2018 in select cities. Check local listings.

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