Critics slam Lars von Trier's 'A House that Jack Built' after audiences walk out due to ultra-violence

Critics slam Lars von Trier's 'A House that Jack Built' after audiences walk out due to ultra-violence
Lars von Trier (Getty Images)

"He mutilates actress Riley Keough, he mutilates children...and we were all there in a formal dress expected to watch it?"

"Just left Lars von Trier's The House that Jack Built. Gross. Pretentious. Vomitive. Torturous. Pathetic"

"Walked out on Lars von Trier. Vile movie. Should not have been made. Actors culpable"

"I've just walked out of Lars von Trier premiere at Cannes 2018 because seeing children being shot and killed is not art or entertainment."

"A vile movie that should not have been made."

"An ordeal of gruesomeness and tiresomeness."

These were just a few of the reviews for Lars von Trier's 'The House That Jack Built,' which premiered at the Cannes this past week and has since been described by some as one of the most violent movies they've ever had the misfortune of watching.

Lars von Trier's reputation precedes him. His penchant for churning out controversial films is matched by few. The acclaimed Danish director and screenwriter's often genre-redefining work confrontationally examine existential, social, and political issues and has earned him over a 100 awards and 200 nominations. But the common consensus for his latest venture, 'The House That Jack Built,' seems to be that he has crossed a line that should simply not have been crossed.



Matt Dillon (Getty Images)

In his defense, he did warn that the film was the most violent he's ever made and that it celebrates 'the idea that life is evil and soulless.' But the movie — which has the effervescent Matt Dillon in the titular role of Jack, a serial killer who has more than 60 deaths to his name and relishes the thrill of the hunt and kill — has still been slammed by a vast majority of those who caught its initial Cannes screening.

While most of the details of the movie have still been kept under wraps, a few have dribbled to the public. It follows Jack, a highly-intelligent serial killer, over the course of 12 years in the 1970s and 1980s in the US state of Washington.

As described in a few of the reviews, it features numerous scenes of mindnumbing violence, one of which involves Jack 'aiming a rifle at two small children, blowing their heads off,' one where the woman played by Riley Keogh had her breast sliced off, and a flashback scene where a young Jack is shown cutting off a duckling's leg with a pair of pliers.


Most of Lars von Trier films are polarizing, and this one was no exception. It was reported that more than a hundred audience members walked out during the premiere, but at the same time, a six-minute standing ovation was also said to have followed the screening.

Variety's Ramin Setoodah called it the 'worst movie of the year' — even worse than the notoriously shoddy 'The Brown Bunny.' — and his sentiment was one shared by a large swathe of critics. While Showbiz 411's review that termed the 'actors culpable' for the movie was largely met with incredulity and derision, those that call the film out for its inanity and unpleasantness were, for the most part, on the mark.


If critics are to be believed, 'The House that Jack Built' may not be one of von Trier's best works, but it's still unlikely to stop fans from giving it a try and if the director's enviable portfolio is anything to go by, it's still most definitely worth a viewing. 

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