Lars von Trier’s serial killer thriller The House That Jack Built premieres at the Cannes Film Festival today, which seems as good a time as any to debut a trailer. Before you watch, just know that the notoriously self-aggrandising and outspoken director has previously stated that the film:
- Gave him profound anxiety to shoot;
- Ponders “the idea that life is evil and soulless;”
- Is the most brutal entry in a filmography that also includes Antichrist.
There is, as they say, a lot to unpack here.
There’s Matt Dillon in what looks like a tremendous lead performance. A cavalcade of brutally violent acts, set to Bowie’s “Fame.” Von Trier’s penchant for handheld cinematography and for including thematically symbolic animals. A darkly comic gag involving a blood trail. An apparent statement (overinflated or not) about why we explore violence through art. And the wince-inducing uncomfortability of seeing Uma Thurman (as “Lady 1”) beaten up and tortured, made all the tougher in the context of both February’s Kill Bill revelations and various accusations regarding von Trier’s on-set behaviour towards actors. All of this points to a likely fascinating and even more likely hard-to-watch movie.
The House That Jack Built premieres today, so we’ll likely have a better idea of what it’s like later on. We’re guessing it’s going to be as divisive as any other Lars von Trier film - and we can only hope it's as good as his best ones.