The reactions to Lars von Trier's The House That Jack Built (which premiered just a few days ago, during this year's Cannes Film Festival) have - in the grand tradition of reactions to new Lars von Trier films - run the gamut from "It's a masterpiece" to "God help you if you enjoy this immoral trash".
We tend to enjoy extreme cinema around these parts - we love all kinds of movies, even the ones you wouldn't want to sit through twice! - but this one feels like it's going to be particularly unpleasant. This is Lars von Trier, a filmmaker who's built an entire career on a gleeful willingness to shock and disturb audiences, reportedly delivering a serial killer saga that features child mutilation, animal abuse and American Psycho-levels of violence against women. We'll see it, but we'd be lying if we said we weren't feeling just a little trepidation about the whole thing.
Which brings us to the following three clips. There's nothing bloody or grotesque going on here, but just watch this footage and tell me you're not already unnerved.
In this first clip, Matt Dillon's serial killer gives a lift to a stranded motorist, played by Uma Thurman. A car jack sits between the two of them, and Thurman's character seems, uh, kind of obsessed with the idea that Dillon's character could be a serial killer. If you've seen The House That Jack Built's trailer, you already know that Thurman ends up having a Very Bad Time in that van. "Oops", indeed.
In this second clip, Matt Dillon confronts a young woman played by Riley Keough (according to what we've read, Keough's character ends up on the receiving end of one of Jack's more horrific acts of violence). That moment where she refers to him as "Mr. Sophistication" is interesting - is that the serial killer moniker given to Jack by the media? Seems likely, but if so, we're curious to hear how they arrived at that name.
And, finally, there's this scene: turns out, Jeremy Davies' gun store owner sold Jack a box of bullets that did not have the full metal jacket casings promised on the box. Jack doesn't respond well to false advertisements (side note: I'm guessing this is the lead-in to a scene glimpsed in the trailer, where Jack appears to be using a sniper rifle to take out half a dozen victims at once via one headshot).
If you haven't been following along, here's The House That Jack Built's official plot synopsis:
"USA 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 manoeuvres."
We're curious where you folks stand on this one: do you plan on seeing Lars von Trier's latest? Think you'll avoid it? How much is too much? Sound off in the comments below, and stay tuned for more on what we imagine will be one of 2018's most divisive films as further updates become available.