There are controversial director, and then there's Lars Von Trier, who seems to court controversy with each new boundary-pushing film he makes. The director's latest film, the serial killer movie The House that Jack Built is no exception. The House that Jack Built is now in trouble with the MPAA over an unapproved, unrated screening of the ultra-violent and gruesome film.
On Wednesday night, a special, one-night only screening was held in select theaters across the country, showing an unrated, director's cut of the film. The distributor, IFC Films, is now facing sanctions over the screenings (according to The Hollywood Reporter) for failing to obtain the appropriate waiver. The House that Jack Built violated the MPAA's rules by holding these unrated screenings in such close proximity to the film's official release date on December 14th.
The reasoning behind the MPAA's rules on this is that by releasing an unrated cut so close to the official release, it can create confusion for consumers who rely on the MPAA rating system to make informed choices about the movies they see. An unrated cut of the movie screening could confuse audiences, and theoretically lead to someone not paying close enough attention and seeing a gory film like this that they were not at all prepared for.
The violation of these rules now means that The House that Jack Built could face sanctions that could impact the film itself and its distributor IFC Films.
The House that Jack Built is set to release in select theaters and on digital, with an R rating. Unfortunately, that rating could possibly be revoked as a result of the director's cut screenings. Another possible sanction would see the ratings process for any IFC films before the Classification and Ratings Administration (the organization that administers ratings for the MPAA) suspended. IFC Films could also be suspended from the ratings system altogether for no more than 90 days.
The specific sanctions against IFC and The House that Jack Built will be determined after a hearing of the Classification and Ratings Administration.
Although this latest trouble could actually impact The House that Jack Built's release and its distributor, it is not the first trouble the movie has had-- at least not in the court of public perception. The director of Antichrist, Melancholia and Nymphomaniac's latest film had people walking out when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where IFC picked it up, earlier this year.
Somewhat surprisingly, the film, which shows animals being mutilated, was actually not rebuked by PETA-- because it doesn't use real animals. The film is also accurate in that it shows how real serial killers often get their start by hurting animals.
The House that Jack Built tells the story of Jack, a highly intelligent serial killer in the 1970s Pacific Northwest. The film follows Jack over the course of 12 years, showing the murders he commits that only add to his madness. If you're interested, you can check out the trailer below.
The House that Jack Built stars Matt Dillon as Jack as well as Uma Thurman and Bruno Ganz, it hits select theaters and VOD on December 14th. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule for all of the biggest movies heading to theaters (with presumably less controversy) next year.