Lars Von Trier’s production company Zentropa has released three new clips of his psychological horror The House That Jack Built after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday was met with some searing reviews over its depiction of violence and gore.
Featuring Matt Dillon and Uma Thurman, The House That Jack Built follows serial killer Jack (Dillon) on his murdering spree over two decades. Set in the 1970s, the film traces five murders from the point of view of Jack, who views his killings as works of art.
More than a hundred people reportedly walked out of the premiere because they found it too disturbing. However, the film also reportedly received a standing ovation from those who stayed till the end.
The first clip features Thurman’s character joking with Jack about how he could be a serial killer. In the second clip, a victim recognises the threat that Jack poses and the third clip shows Jack getting enraged because he was not sold the kind of bullets he wanted.
In an interview to Cinemaeuropa, von Trier said the reception to his film at Cannes made him “very relaxed”. “It’s quite important not to be loved by everybody, because then you’ve failed,” he said. “I’m not sure if they hated it enough, though. If it gets too popular, I’ll have a problem. But the reception seemed just about right, I think.”
The scene that reportedly prompted the most walkouts involved Jack shooting a couple of children in the head. The film has also received criticism for a scene featuring a young Jack cut off a duckling’s leg with pliers. Jack then places the duck in the pond and watches it drown.
However, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals defended the film in a statement that confirms that Von Trier has used a fake silicon leg for the duck, IndieWire reported. The statement said that no animal was harmed during the production of film.
PETA said, “While depictions of gratuitous violence like this may leave viewers sickened, it’s true that serial killers, like the character in the film, often get their start by first torturing animals, making the scene all the more realistic and disturbing,” the statement read.
The House That Jack Built, which was screened out of competition at Cannes, marked the controversial filmmaker’s return to the festival seven years after he was banned for joking that he sympathised with German dictator Adolf Hitler during a press conference in 2011 to promote his film Melancholia.