Film festivals are opportunities to test out cinematic experiments. One of the latest debuts, a film by Lars von Trier, made waves at the Canned Film Festival. The movie is so graphic and violent that many of those in the audience, people who were expecting graphic violence, walked out of the theater.
“The Danish director called [The House That Jack Built] his most violent film to date and at least 100 viewers couldn’t handle it and left the screening on Monday night,” The Daily Mail writes.
“Matt Dillon stars as Jack, a serial killer with more than 60 deaths to his name who relishes bloodshed and plots increasingly horrifying ways to inflict death.”
The director seemed to relish the horror implicit in the story, but movie goers felt some of the horror crossed a line.
“The plot takes place over a 12-year period and shows the killings that develop his character as a murderer,” DM adds.
“As such, the film included many extremely violent scenes where victims including children were graphically murdered on screen.”
Al Jazeera reporter Charlie Angela was one that walked out. Angela left “because seeing children being shot and killed is not art or entertainment.”
Ironically, everyone expected to see adult characters being shot and killed. Perhaps that does qualify as entertainment and as art, but killing kids is somehow different.
“He mutilates (actress) Riley Keough, he mutilates children…,” New York magazine’s Kyle Buchanan said, “and we are all there in formal dress expected to watch it?”
Precisely. Odds are they had all seen the trailer, and many had likely seen other films by the director. Yet it appears there is a limit to the willing suspension of disbelief.
“Just left Lars Von Trier’s The House that Jack Built,” The Oscar Predictor wrote. “Gross. Pretentious. Vomitive. Torturous. Pathetic.”
The audience reactions were strong, to be sure. The theater reportedly cleared out fast after the film ended. Even those who had stayed were not eager, it seems, to talk about the experience.
Yet others note that some in the audience gave the movie a standing ovation as the credits rolled.
The film shows women being murdered. Some are tortured before they are killed. Kids are also killed. The film also includes stock footage from World War II concentration camps, though it isn’t immediately clear in the reporting how that footage serves the plot.
Von Trier was there to see the reaction. The director has long been a lightning rod for controversy. “In the disastrous remarks after his film Melancholia he joked that the he was a Nazi who understood Hitler and sympathized ‘with him a little bit’,” DM notes.
He didn’t do interviews this time.