Blu-ray Review: The House That Jack Built (Director’s Cut)

What’s the point of an indie film dealing with the MPAA to get a rating anymore? You’re just opening yourself up to a world of pain to jump through hoops and slice off frames in the hopes of getting an R-Rating. Odds are that the “art house” movie theaters you’re booking into no longer care about having a rating. Maybe in the past you couldn’t sell your film to Walmart or Target without that precious MPAA rating. But the video sections are getting pruned down to maybe Marvel and Disney sections with the rest vanishing. The people eager to see your film are going to want to see the unrated version. Last year there was a sneak preview of Lars von Trier’s The House That Jack Built. Instead of running the MPAA approved R-rated cut, they gave theatergoers the unrated Director’s Cut that played at Cannes. People who saw it seemed excited. The MPAA was not. Seeing how the film didn’t exactly make Frozen 2 boxoffice, you have to question what was the true point of the R-Rating? Did the film about a serial killer have a hope of scoring big at a Cineplex in Iowa City? Thankfully you will get to chose between both cuts when The House That Jack Built: Director’s Cut arrives on Blu-ray.

Jack (Flamingo Kid‘s Matt Dillon) recounts his experiences as a serial killer to a calm voice provided by Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire). His first big share is the time he was driving along a country road when he helped out Uma Thurman (The Avengers). She can’t fix her flat tire because the jack has broken. He’s reluctant to help and she turns into a pain on the ride. She keeps going on about the odds that Jack is a serial killer. She gets so annoying that it’s hard to really consider Jack a serial killer when he makes his move and not just “Sick of Your Yapping Samaritan.” But Jack considers himself a serial killer and even has an industrial freezer full of frozen pizzas that he stores her body inside. Jack turns out to not be just a guy who randomly kills people lost on the road. He goes after a woman who lives alone although his technique is quite messy. Later he tells Bruno about a woman he dated that had two kids. He took them into the countryside for a picnic. He gives the boys a lesson in hunting which ends very badly for them. It’s rather grotesque when he insists his girlfriend act like there’s nothing wrong as they break out the desert from the picnic basket. But Jack isn’t done with love as he dates a girl he merely calls Simple. He freaks her out with a Magic Marker. His big final killing involves a desire to kill a few people with the least amount of ammo. He wants to sound a bit more creative while bragging to Bruno about his exploits as “Mr. Sophistication.”

Lars von Trier has made Matt Dillon a frightening goofball on the screen. He never turns off the charm as he captures and corners new victims. He’s never vicious until the fatal moment of the attack. And even afterward he seems a bit hard to swallow as this murdering psychopath. Jack is a character concerned with art and architecture. He shows off his various designs for his house he wants to make with Mount St. Helen’s in the distance. He reflects upon the music of Glenn Gould and other works of art in comparison to what he does when killing. He speaks of the way the killing makes him feel. Lars von Trier doesn’t make Jack likeable so much as give a sense of why Jack isn’t treated as a suspect as people vanish. Who could imagine he’s a serial killer?

What’s the difference between the approved theatrical cut and the director’s cut? It’s hard to exactly say what has been snipped without spoiling the movie. But the time difference is one minute and thirty two seconds. Most of it appears to be in extreme violence being spliced away. The House That Jack Built does live up to the title when Jack makes his homestead and it will gross out a queasy stomach. This is a film that never needed an R-Rating and luckily you can experience it’s Director’s Cut version instead.

The video is 2.40:1 anamorphic. The resolution makes the giant freezer even more cold as the bodies pile up. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA Surround and 2.0 DTS-HD MA Stereo. You’ll hear more of Jack around the room in the surround sound. The movie is subtitled in English and Spanish.

Trailer (2:32) has Uma Thurman says Matt Dillon looks like a serial killer. There’s no mistaking this for a new superhero film.

Sonning Prize: Interview with Lars Von Trier (26:46) has him talk about having no Twitter or Facebook account. He takes time to explain that he’s not a pro Hitler person. The conversation is in Danish with English subtitles.

The House That Jack Built Announcement (0:27) is a strange message from Lars that they’re going to start shooting in 2016.

Lars Von Trier Greeting (0:27) sends us a quick message from Denmark.

Cannes Teaser (0:23) doesn’t show much but fingers, blood and a smile.

Scream Factory presents The House That Jack Built: Director’s Cut. Directed by: Lars von Trier. Screenplay by: Lars von Trier. Starring: Matt Dillon, Bruno Ganz, Uma Thurman, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Sofie Gråbøl, Riley Keough & Jeremy Davies. Rated: R Rated & Unrated. Running Time: 151 minutes and 152 minutes. Released: February 4, 2020.

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