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Lars von Trier's New Movie Is So Violent 100 People Walked Out at Cannes

One critic called 'The House That Jack Built' "two and half hours of self-reflexive torture porn."
Photo of von Trier by VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images; still via Zentropa Productions

Long before they took their seats, moviegoers at Cannes knew Lars von Trier's new film, The House That Jack Built, was going to be brutal. The festival's artistic director, Thierry Fremaux, had already decided the movie about a ruthless serial killer was “so controversial" he had to make it ineligible for prizes, forcing von Trier to play it out of competition.

Still, apparently some people at The House That Jack Built's Monday night screening weren't prepared for just how gruesome it would be. According to Variety, more than 100 people were so shocked by the violence, they left their seats and stormed out of the theater.


The House That Jack Built stars Matt Dillon as a philosophically minded psychopath who carries out five random acts of bloodshed. The film shows him mutilating his victims in gory detail: At one point, the killer slices off one of his victim's breasts. Later, he shoots two children in the head—a scene that reportedly prompted the first wave of walkouts.

Most critics who managed to endure the whole thing panned the movie, complaining that—at over two and a half hours—the film was too bloody, too brutal, and too long. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw called it “an ordeal of gruesomeness,” while the Telegraph’s Robbie Collins described it as “two and half hours of self-reflexive torture porn." But at least a few people walked away from The House That Jack Built impressed.

All told, maybe the folks who wound up walking out of The House That Jack Built should have heeded Fremaux's warning, and just steered clear of the thing. Catching Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman probably would've made for a better time.

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