You just knew Lars Von Trier was going to stir up some drama with his grand return to Cannes (the filmmaker was banned for seven years as a “persona non grata” after making Hitler jokes while promoting Melancholia). And guess what, the reactions to his latest piece of provocation, the gruesome serial killer drama The House That Jack Built, did not disappoint.
The film premiered at Cannes today and apparently theater-goers just weren’t having it. Cannes audiences are known for being, let’s say passionate, prone to booing and standing ovations, but the social media reports out of The House That Jack Built describe a next-level sea of walkouts. This is not surprising considering it’s a serial killer movie directed by the guy who gave us Antichrist, which might just be the actual grosses, hardest to watch movie of the 21st century. Or at least it was, because it sounds like this one is even rougher. Those mass walkouts were trigged by brutal sequences of mutilation and torture, including children, and of course women (it’s Von Trier, after all). Von Trier told The Guardian “The House That Jack Built celebrates the idea that life is evil and soulless,” so yeah, it’s probably not going to be super fun to watch.
If that sounds like your bag, get a glimpse in the trailer below. Matt Dillon stars as the super creepy guy doing all the killing alongside Uma Thurman, Riley Keough, Bruno Ganz, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Sofie Gråbøl, Jeremy Davies, and Ed Speleers.
Here’s the official synopsis for The House that Jack Built:
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.