Movie Review: The House That Jack Built (2018)

January 20, 2020

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Jack (Matt Dillon) is one of your normal failed architect and arch-sociopath types that you see practically everywhere these days. But this is the 70’s so maybe that was less common then…

So Jack; he’s a burgeoning serial killer looking to make one hell of an artistic statement with his murder biz. Over the course of twelve years, Jack builds on his previous mayhem in more and more audacious (read: highly noticeable) ways which attract the attention of the local po-po something fierce. What will fate (and other forces) have in store for Jack?

I’m laying it on the line, The House That Jack Built is at times funny, stomach churning, and gore drenched, and at all times ultra-misogynistic, but no matter how brutal things get… and holy fucking fuck do they… it remains relentlessly watchable.

The reason for that lies squarely on Matt Dillon.

While often depicted as comedic and surface level likable, sympathy is not something we are supposed to give to Jack even for a second. Jack hates women, and takes great delight in fucking them (and at times those around them) up six ways to Sunday in ways that would make even hardened horror hounds cringe… and that doesn’t even cover the emotional abuse he heaps upon Simple (Riley Keough) that just diminishes her to the point where the word ‘uncomfortable’ doesn’t even begin to cover it.

All of that ends up being an acting tour de force from Dillon in what may just be his ultimate role. So deeply does he evoke the inner workings of Jack’s personality, he also displays the sheer vibrancy of the maniac’s wetwork in ways so convincing that you worry he may lose himself completely in the role… so kudos there my man!

Also you can bet your ass that the material reflects writer/director Lars von Trier’s postulations on the stages of being an artist, all represented by the film’s 5 acts to one extent or another. Everything from the spark of being a creative person, to the burn out that ends all too many creators careers (and everything in-between) are explored through the blood splattered adventures of our pal Jack.

All that being said, you certainly get more of an arthouse experience than a grindhouse one with The House That Jack Built (which I can’t even believe I’m typing after the carnage I have witnessed here).

As you may surmise, this film is concerned more with examining the psyche of an artist (who’s art just so happens to be ending the lives of as many ladies as possible) rather than going for slasher flick antics (not to mention the not-so-subtle political allegory of all those red hats on people’s heads… also this is loose adaptation of Dante’s Inferno for fuck’s sake) This will doubtless be up to the individual viewer if this kind of intellectual posturing is what they want out of their (pseudo) fright flick.

As for special features on this Blu-ray Director’s Cut release from Scream Factory, we get an interview with von Trier, the film’s trailer, and the alternate theatrical cut of the film.

Challenging, nauseating, and compelling, The House That Jack Built is one that is well worth setting your putrid peepers on!




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