The House That Jack Built (2018 film)

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The House That Jack Built
The House That Jack Built.png
Film poster
Directed by Lars von Trier
Produced by
  • Louise Vesth
  • Jonas Bagger
  • Piv Bernth
  • Peter Aalbæk Jensen
  • Marianne Slot
Screenplay by Lars von Trier
Music by Víctor Reyes
Cinematography Manuel Alberto Claro
Edited by Jacob Secher Schulsinger
Distributed by
Release date
  • 14 May 2018 (2018-05-14) (Cannes)
  • 29 November 2018 (2018-11-29) (Denmark)
Running time
155 minutes[1]
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Sweden
Language English
Budget 8.7 million[2]

The House That Jack Built is a 2018 psychological horror film written and directed by Lars von Trier, starring Matt Dillon in the title role of Jack.[3] The story follows Jack, a serial killer, over the course of 12 years in the 1970s and 1980s in the U.S. state of Washington.[4][5] Von Trier has described the film as celebrating "the idea that life is evil and soulless."[6] The film debuted at the Cannes Film Festival, marking von Trier's return to the festival after more than six years.


The story follows Jack, a highly intelligent serial killer, over the course of 12 years and depicts the murders that truly develop Jack as a serial killer.



Von Trier originally developed the idea as a television series, but in February 2016, he announced that it would be a film.[4] After extensively researching serial killers, von Trier had a completed script by May 2016.[5] International sales rights for the film belong to TrustNordisk with von Trier's Zentropa producing.[4] Film i Väst is financing the film, and the Copenhagen Film Fund provided €1.08 million in production subsidies.[4][11] The film is a co-production between France, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark.[4]

On 2 November 2016, von Trier announced that Matt Dillon would play the film's lead role.[12] Announcements soon followed in February 2017 that Riley Keough and Sofie Gråbøl would also be joining the production[11] with Uma Thurman's participation being announced the following month.[3] Filming began in March 2017 in Bengtsfors, Sweden and was scheduled to finish filming in Denmark in May 2017.[13][2] Von Trier split the filming into two parts to allow the opportunity for editing in between, something he has never done before.[5] Complicated visual-effects work was scheduled to be completed after filming.[14][15]


In May 2017, IFC Films acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film.[16] As of March 2017, von Trier was negotiating to have the film premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, despite his being previously banned from the festival.[14] On 19 April 2018, the film was selected to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival out of competition.[17] After the announcement, a teaser trailer was released.[18]

The film had its world premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2018.[19] It was reported that more than a hundred audience members walked out during the premiere, though a six-minute standing ovation followed the screening.[19][20]

Critical reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 55%, based on 33 critics, and an average rating of 6/10.[21]

Indiewire critic Eric Kohn gave the film an "A-" and called the film a "wild masterpiece."[22]'s Nicolas Barber gave the film four stars out of five and said "Undoubtedly a bold and stimulating film which no one but Denmark's notorious provocateur-auteur could have made."[23] Owen Gleiberman from Variety gave the film a positive review, and stated "It's halfway between a subversive good movie and a stunt. It's designed to get under your skin, and does."[24] David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter wrote "The House That Jack Built is definitely something to see. But what's most surprising is that it's just as often inane as unsettling."[25] The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw referred to the film as "an ordeal of gruesomeness and tiresomeness", though he did praise its closing scene.[26]

Despite audience backlash toward a scene involving the main character's mutilation of a duckling when he was a child, PETA has defended the film in a statement praising its accurate portrayal of the link between adolescent animal abuse and psychopathy and for the realistic special effects.[27]


  1. ^ "The 2018 Official Selection". Cannes. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Christian Monggaard (8 March 2017). "Lars von Trier talks Uma Thurman, serial killers and Cannes at first press conference since Nazi row". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  3. ^ a b Elsa Keslassy (7 March 2017). "Uma Thurman Joins Cast of Lars von Trier's 'The House That Jack Built'". Variety. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e Elsa Keslassy (11 May 2016). "Lars Von Trier's 'The House That Jack Built': New Details Emerge". Variety. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Wendy Mitchell (17 May 2016). "Lars Von Trier's 'The House That Jack Built' cuts early deals". Screen Daily. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  6. ^ Catherine Shoard (14 February 2017). "Lars von Trier inspired by Donald Trump for new serial-killer film". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  7. ^ Garth Franklin (29 April 2018). "New "Deadpool 2," "House That Jack" Photos". Dark Horizons. Retrieved 2018-05-02.
  8. ^ Franco Bianchini (2 January 2018). "Cinema, i dieci film attesi nelle nostre sale tra curiosità, polemiche e… Ruby" (in Italian). Secolo d'Italia. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  9. ^ Sonia Kil (April 25, 2017). "Korea's Yu Ji-tae Joins Lars von Trier's 'The House That Jack Built'". Variety. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  10. ^ Brzeski, Patrick (April 26, 2017). "South Korean Actor Yu Ji-tae Joins Lars Von Trier's 'House That Jack Built'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  11. ^ a b Scott Roxborough (11 February 2017). "Berlin: Lars von Trier's 'The House That Jack Built' Adds Riley Keough, Sofie Gråbøl (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  12. ^ Mike Fleming Jr (2 November 2016). "Lars Von Trier Sets Matt Dillon, Bruno Ganz For 'The House That Jack Built'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  13. ^ Zach Sharf (8 March 2017). "Lars von Trier Wants You to Know 'The House That Jack Built' Will Be His Most Brutal Film Ever". IndieWire. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  14. ^ a b Gilbey, Ryan (9 March 2017). "Lars von Trier negotiating for Cannes return after 2011 Nazi comments ban". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  15. ^ BBC News (2018-05-15). "Lars von Trier's 'Gross' and 'Torturous' Film Prompts Walkout." Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  16. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (25 May 2017). "Lars Von Trier's 'The House That Jack Built' Picked Up By IFC Films – Cannes". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  17. ^ Elsa Keslassy (19 April 2018). "Cannes Adds Lars von Trier's 'The House That Jack Built,' Sets Terry Gilliam's 'Don Quixote' as Closer". Variety. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  18. ^ Miska, Brad (19 April 2018). "Lars von Trier's 'The House That Jack Built' to Premiere at Cannes [Teaser]". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  19. ^ a b Ritman, Alex (May 14, 2018). "Cannes: Lars Von Trier's "Disgusting," "Torturous" Film Sparks Walkouts". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  20. ^ Mumford, Gwilym (2018-05-15). "'Vomitive. Pathetic': Lars Von Trier film prompts mass walkouts at Cannes". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  21. ^ "The House That Jack Built (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  22. ^ Kohn, Eric (2018-05-15). "‘The House That Jack Built’ Review: Lars von Trier’s Serial Killer Epic Is Horrifying, Sadistic, Possibly Brilliant — Cannes 2018." Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  23. ^ Barber, Nicolas (2018-05-15). Film Review: The House That Jack Built." Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  24. ^ Glieberman, Owen (2018-05-15). "Cannes Film Review: Lars von Trier’s ‘The House That Jack Built.’" Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  25. ^ Rooney, David (2018-05-14). "'The House That Jack Built': Film Review | Cannes 2018." Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  26. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (2018-05-15). "The House That Jack Built review – Lars Von Trier serves up a smirking ordeal of gruesomeness". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  27. ^ Sharf, Zack (May 17, 2018). "PETA Defends Lars von Trier's 'The House That Jack Built' Against Backlash Over Graphic Animal Mutilation Scene". IndieWire. Retrieved June 30, 2018.

External links[edit]