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17 Dec 2018

Home Video Review: Matt Dillon Is Amazing as a Serial Killer in Director Lars Von Trier's Strange 'The House That Jack Built'

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Uma Thurman and Matt Dillon in The House That Jack Built. Uma Thurman and Matt Dillon in The House That Jack Built.

Matt Dillon is all sorts of horrifying as the titular character, a serial killer in 1970s America, in The House That Jack Built.

He’s an architect; he has OCD; and he’s a killer who likens his work to art. He describes his murders to an off-camera inquisitor (Bruno Ganz) as if they were symphonic masterworks. The allegory is a bit heavy-handed, and the satire is a little more than obvious. At times, it plays a lot like the book version of American Psycho. (The book was nastier than the film.)

Director Lars von Trier, who is seemingly getting nastier and stranger with every film, has always been quite the provocateur. This marks a slight comeback from his awful Nymphomaniac movies, although it doesn’t compare to his best work (Melancholia, Dancer in the Dark, Antichrist).

The main reason to see The House That Jack Built is Dillon, who delivers one of his best performances as a very complicated, very sick dude. The final act of the movie is its best, as Jack completes a journey that takes him to a hot place, including an impressive ride on the river Styx. Dillon and a supporting cast that includes Uma Thurman and Riley Keough make this worth seeing.

Von Trier makes good-looking movies, but he gets a little carried away sometimes, and this one is quite insane. He seriously needs to make a movie about puppies and rainbows, and calm things down.

The House That Jack Built is available via online sources including iTunes and Amazon.com.

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