Lars von Trier isn’t exactly known for subtlety, and certainly hasn’t shied away from sexually or violently graphic material. So when he warned audiences before the Cannes premiere of The House That Jack Built that it would be his most brutal film yet…well, it meant something. And based on the trailer he wasn’t exaggerating.
Matt Dillion stars as the titular serial killer, which takes us through his murderous career while showing the influences on him as a child. Here’s a hint: Jack is pretty screwed up. Uma Thurman, who had a very memorable role in the director’s Nymphomaniac, is back as “Lady 1”. Uh oh. That doesn’t sound good for her character, does it?
Here’s the synopsis: U.S.A. in the 1970s. We follow the highly intelligent Jack through 5 incidents and are introduced to the murders that define Jack’s development as a serial killer. We experience the story from Jack’s point of view. He views each murder as an artwork in itself, even though his dysfunction gives him problems in the outside world.
Despite the fact that the final and inevitable police intervention is drawing ever near (which both provokes and puts pressure on Jack) he is – contrary to all logic – set on taking greater and greater chances. The goal is the ultimate artwork: A collection of all his killings manifested in a House that he builds. Along the way we experience Jack’s descriptions of his personal condition, problems and thoughts through a recurring conversation with the unknown Verge – a grotesque mixture of sophistry mixed with an almost childlike self-pity and in-depth explanations of, for Jack, dangerous and difficult maneuvers.
The House That Jack Built has its world premiere on May 14th. The cast includes Riley Keough, Bruno Ganz, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Sofie Gråbøl, Jeremy Davies, and Ed Speleers.