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Review: ‘The House That Jack Built’ is Dripping With Intellect to Pick Apart and Overanalyze

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Review: 'The House That Jack Built' is Dripping With Intellect to Pick Apart and Overanalyze

The House That Jack Built is a 2018 film by Lars Von Triers. Since its release, this film has made waves with fans of the “disturbing” genre and it is often recommended. Having Von Triers as the director also means that it has leaked out into the mainstream eye as well, causing this film to be widely discussed and easily found.

The House That Jack Built follows a serial killer named Jack over the course of twelve years and five “incidents”. We are told the stories with Jack as the narrator talking to an unknown person, Verge. Jack is telling Verge of his crimes. Meanwhile, he justifies each incident as a grand work of art as he “builds his house”.

Simply put, The House That Jack Built is a retelling of Dante’s Inferno and American Psycho. Jack is an extremely intelligent, nihilistic, and self aware individual. Jack has obsessive compulsive disorder and is also trying to construct the perfect house. His OCD prevents him from completing the task and we constantly see Jack starting over.

The House That Jack Built Movie Still

*SPOILERS*

We find out later in the film that “Verge” is the poet Virgil. He is leading Jack through the layers of hell while he recants his stories to him. Rightfully so, Jack belongs in hell as he continues to justify his actions. The American Psycho references come into play through the film. Jack is very similar to Patrick Bateman. They are both seemingly OCD (this is implied but not confirmed in American Psycho). They are both extremely intelligent, nihilistic, and self aware. They are both endlessly arrogant. Most of all, there is a possibility that neither of them have ever committed a single murder. We get a bit more closure in this one than we do in American Psycho, but it’s still up for interpretation.

*END SPOILERS*

The House That Jack Built is dripping with intellect to pick apart and overanalyze. That doesn’t mean it’s a good movie. I was very bored with this one and maybe that’s because it’s something that’s been done before. Now, I know. It’s almost impossible for a completely original idea to come out of modern cinema. I’m one of the few people that doesn’t mind a good remake. This one just felt like it tried too hard and it fell flat. Originally, it was meant to be a TV series and I think that would have made sense. The film is just under two and half hours, but that didn’t feel like enough time to get too invested into Jack. He was extremely unlikable. I loved American Psycho and we aren’t supposed to like Patrick Bateman. However, he has a charm to him that Jack lacks.

The House That Jack Built Movie 2018 Still

As far as “disturbing” goes, it has its moments. Mostly dealing with killing kids and animals. Speaking of animal killings, PETA actually praised the film for its realistic portrayal of the correlation between harming animals at a young age and being a serial killer. How about that? I will say, I never thought I would see the day where one of these films got the PETA seal of approval!

I’m not saying don’t watch it. I am the oddball that did not enjoy this one. It’s not that I didn’t “get it” or anything like that. Some of these disturbing films are notoriously slow but the pay off can be worth it. I didn’t feel like this one was. It has received mostly glowing reviews and praise from fans of horror in general. Admittedly, this is my first Von Triers film and I can’t compare it to his other work. If you like what he does, I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t enjoy this.

You can watch The House That Jack Built for free with a Hulu subscription.

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