EVIL Expressionism in “The House That Jack Built” reviewed!


Over the span of 12 years from the 1970’s to the 1980’s, wannabe architect Jack is an accomplished engineer living in serene of the Pacific Northwest and with a lack of empathy and an internal repository of compulsive and narcissistic traits, Jack is able to be a highly successful and intelligent serial killer who seeks mastering his craft as highly artistic and divine. Over the same period of time while butchering nearly countless people, including his own family, Jack obsessive compulsive disorder not only assists his longevity of his creative expression, but also dwindles down another social expected goal of designing and engineering his own home isolated at the edge of a lake. As the body count rises, Jack compulsive restrictions loosen and he begins taking greater and greater risks of being caught. Jack narrates his voyage of viscera and macabre to a literary listener in a back-and-forth to explain and justify his murderous methods and craft.

Unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, auteur writer-director Lars Von Trier (“Antichrist” and Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 and 2″) crafts his very own artistic expression delineation with the 2018 “The House That Jack Built,” a two and half hour venture into the deconstruction of a serial killer’s personality traits as well as the flourishing experience of murder through years of repetitive brush stroke practice and self-preservation knowledge done in a self-portrait form. Graphically violent and supercharged with coarse and visually stimulating visual effects and editing, all the hallmarks of a Von Trier film, “The House That Jack Built” blends an abundance of fine arts with religion and mythology that develops into a soaring renaissance piece of art in the modern times and would inspire the most closeted psychopath to revel themselves in a heap of aesthetic and picturesque horror.

As if Matt Dillion isn’t already an entertaining and diverse actor, the “Wild Things” and “Crash” star excavates a vile and dumb luck Jack from deep within, crafting the character as so smart, he’s sometimes stupid, but with each murder subsequently gone scot-free, the confidence builds, the trade becomes tangible, and the narcism washes over ever so slightly. Dillion arcs Jack so well that the character no longer becomes the villain but an anti-hero of sorts as rooting for the slaughtering of innocents becomes a painful necessity rather than an empty desire. The titular character converses with a mysterious companion named Vergel in a way as if Jack was anecdotally telling his own biopic. Vergel symbols multiple conceptual and tangible beings, from Jack’s moral conscious to Vergil, the Augustan period Roman poet, Vergel, or Verge as Jack simple calls him, crudely interviews and thoroughly analyzes Jack’s so-called art. Verge’s off-screen presence is heartily brought to life by Bruno Ganz, an actor who once portrayed Adolf Hitler in 2004’s Academy Award nominated film, “Downfall.” Ganz takes an expected backseat to the title carrying Jack, but doesn’t succumb to being underneath’s Jack’s critical and narcissistic viewpoints, making Verge a level playing field character alongside Jack. Ganz, who passed earlier this year, is equally masterful under a relatively underwhelming role paired with pure evil and while the contrast’s magnitude should be starkly poignant, Jack and Verge are equals in the eye of the viewers and that’s how powerful Lars Von Trier’s filmmaking can really be. Jack’s chaptering stories include co-stars such as “Kill Bill’s” Uma Thurman, Siobhan Fallon Hogan (“Men in Black”), Sofie Gråbøl (“Nightwatch”), Riley Keough (“It Comes At Night”), Jeremy Davies (“Ravenous”), and David Bailie of “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise.

In my experience with film from Lars Von Trier is that those who patron his films have polarizing affections; you either love his work or you absolutely loath his style of film. My experience consists of only one, yes one, of projects and that being “Antichrist,” and while I was not entirely enthralled with the film’s sexual themes, “The House That Jack Built” provided a plethora of philosophies to pick apart and to continue to digest even way after viewing. For those who might forego themes, philosophies, and theologies, many will bore themselves through the filmmaker’s American serial killer thriller for over two hours long, clocking in a 153 minutes, and finding themselves disoriented in a segmented tale that’s chaptered by five incidents and an epilogue over a 12 year span. Others will bang their hands over Trier’s use of repeat scenes, purposefully rolling them slow and in a calm disposition, allowing Jack to deliberate how and why he does what he does in his discussions with Verge, but these soft touches are nice pillow talk touches to the main, punchy action of Jack’s self imposed duresses under his murdering moniker, Mr. Sophistication, that palpably places the narcissistic cherry on top of misanthropic persona. The devil in the details are punchy themselves and a keystone to Trier’s overall narrative to explore the impulses of a killer’s mind. “The House That Jack Built” is a great accompaniment to shows like “Mindhunter” on Netflix or other films like “Silence of the Lambs” where serial killers vocalizes intricacies of their niche trade is very fascinating for morbid loving sympathizers.

Umbrella Entertainment releases “The House That Jack Built” onto Blu-ray home video. The full HD, 1080p, region B, uncut disc is presented in a widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and is fully operational in all sense of the phrase with a generous color palate lacing through more natural lighting than assumed there would be in comparison to “Antichrist,” but the raw tone by Manuel Alberto Claro debases the stylized techniques of “Antichrist’s” Anthony Dod Mantle to virtually a hardline and graphic depiction of reality in the 1970’s. The English language 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is respectfully verbose and robust. Trier’s loquacious exposition is actually great exposition of the crystal clear kind and the director shows off his depth and range, splicing edits together like a madman that still convey the overall theme without disregarding audio accounts. While technically sound, the Umbrella release comes regretfully with no bonus features. Brilliant, musing, and intense, “The House That Jack Built” is a Lars Von Trier legacy film breathed with unadulterated violence and sharp with superb writing potent that’s potent on every level. Trier just gets better and better with every film and look forward to his next project!

The House That Jack Built on Blu-ray!

Triangular Space EVIL is the Sign of the Beast! “The Dark Side of the Moon” reviewed!


In the year 2022, orbital satellites carry nuclear missiles and maintain flight patterns around the moon. When a satellite repair ship, known as a “refab” ship called Spaecore 1, attempts to intercept a satellite for maintenance, the system wide computer goes into an unexplained power failure that jeopardizes communications, life support, and navigation. Drifting helpless toward sector Centrus B-40, the dark side of the moon, all hope will be lost within 24 hours unless operations can be restored, but a mysterious spacecraft, NASA’s Discovery shuttle, heads toward them and docks onto their outer hull without so much of a hail from the shuttle. Captain Flynn and Lt. Giles investigate a seemingly abandoned ship until coming across a dead body of a presumed missing NASA astronaut, eviscerated with an opening left in a perfect triangle as the cause of death, and that opens the door to more questions than answer as a sinister presence boards their ship, pursuing damnation for their souls.

Just think, in two more years, weapons of mass destruction satellites will loom just above fluffy white clouds, ready to mushroom clouds out of targets with a 10-ton yield; at least that’s what director D.J. Webster and the screenwriters, identical twins Carey W. Hayes and Chad Hayes, modeled the future when conjuring up this delectable Sci-Fi horror film approx. 20 years ago. With special effects models and techniques that withstand against powerhouse space films, such as from the immaculate effects of Alien franchise, “The Dark Side of the Moon” becomes more than just a 1973 Pink Floyd album title Fabricated out of warped creativity of old and new concepts with a Biblical horror base that only the 1990’s could loosely spin into an hour and 27 minute feature, for many of the filmmakers involved, “The Dark Side of the Moon” credits as their first taste of a feature length, large scale production, especially with the mainly music video director D.J. Webster, who loves his closeups, and director of photography Russ T. Alsobrook, as they auto clicks into a team that seemingly have experience of seasoned veterans or, perhaps, spent some secretive, unlogged time in space. Who knows, but the outcome ruminates about the dark side of religion and how each of us deal with it internally.

When mullets and giant framed glasses are afoot, the late 80’s, early 90’s filming era is beyond evident with interestingly gritty characters lined up for an evil figure eager to knock them down and, of course, the story’s lead character is the mullet sporting pilot named Lt. Giles Stewart who is unwittingly thrust into the fast track of a hero’s lane. Giles’s atheism framework has a pleasant sardonicism about it when face-to-face with the immortal conqueror of his ship and crew. Will Bledsoe paints Giles as such as faithless space pilot, bound to duty, and willing to do anything to just not save himself, but others. One of the only recognizable faces, at least for myself, in the cast is John Diehl. The “Stargate” and “The Shield” television actor is best at being a wild card in turmoil situations and as shipmate Phillip Jennings, the same can be expected without being utterly conventional or warrant any kind of typecast label. Another actor to note is Alan Blumenfeld as the ship’s panicky Dr. Dreyfuss Steiner. Blumenfeld, who had a role in the best Jason Voorhees film, in my humble opinion, “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, is once again stalked by a larger-than-life villain while maintaining a profusely sweaty persona that’s symbolically intended to be true, unadulterated fear. As a whole, the cast is amazing regardless of some first time filmmakers at the helm, rounding out with “Re-Animator’s” Robert Sampson as the ship’s Capt. Flynn, Joe Turkel from the first “Blade Runner,” “Blood Frenzy’s,” and overall erotic thriller goddess, Wendy MacDonald, stunt man (“Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, “Army of Darkness”) Ken Lesco, and another “Friday the 13th” actor, Camilla More, or Tina from “The Final Chapter,” as the stationary sexy, ship’s onboard computer-robot named Lesli – think on the same lines as Mother from “Alien,” but in the flesh.

What makes “The Dark Side of the Moon” very interesting is the film being an unofficial precursor to other science fiction horror films like “Event Horizon” that was released roughly seven years later. Space as this gateway to Hell concept is sorely under-appreciated and underutilized. Space is already vastly frightening to begin with and by adding a devilish abyss aspect to it makes the idea an absorbingly scary thought. What’s also fascinating is the Hayes brother. “The Dark Side of the Moon” is the brothers’ roots film; the proverbial patient zero that spread successful movie writing careers for the twins, spawning turn of the century horror with the remake of “House of Wax” that saw the on-screen death of Paris Hilton, had “Underworld” star Kate Beckinsale track down a killer in Antarctica in “Whiteout,” and they penned “The Conjuring” that constructed its very own universe.

“The Dark Side of the Moon” comes in at #2 on the Unearthed Films’ Classics label distributed MVDVisual. The newly restored 4K transfer of the Wild Street Pictures production is presented in a widescreen, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, region A Blu-ray release. Surprisingly sharp despite consistent low-lit scenes and not as washed like previous VHS versions, this restoration fine tunes the nitty-gritty specifics needed for proper presentation that doesn’t falter from heavy digital noise or blotch artifacts and shows no signs of enhancing The English language LPCM 2.0 audio track is strapping for a dual channel format. Dialogue pronounced clearly, ambient spaceship clinks and clunks create atmospheric range and depth, and the relentless brooding score by “Society’s” Mark Ryder and Phil Davies delivers shuddering spinal-tingles without being monotonously dull. Bonus features include a commentary with executive producer Paul and Unearthed Films’ Stephen Biro, interviews with Alan Blumenfeld, FX artist R. Christopher Biggs, and stuntman Chuck Borden, plus vintage audio track, trailers, photo gallery, and a insert booklet that dives into about the production and the cast. All packed into a nice little slipcover package. “The Dark Side of the Moon” pioneers into the future of space horror as a good ole dread-inducing fear-monger of the great expanse, deserving this Unearthed Films’ release, hands down.

Mysterious Evil Destroys Small Village Families. “The Wailing” review!

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-8-16-32-pmIn a small South Korean village, tight-knit families practically know one another in the quaint middle-class community. When mysteriously deadly destructions from inside local families and strange stories of animal carcass devouring creatures in the woods surface, local police sergeant Jong-Goo begins an investigation to connect a pattern of violence and superstition and at the center of it all is a suspicious and reclusive Japanese traveller. Bound by the law and an overall lack of courage, Jong-Goo proceeds to investigate with extreme caution, but when his young daughter, Hyo-jin, becomes subjected to the same symptoms that overtook destroyed families from within, the desperate father sets aside rules and regulations and uses threats and force when visiting the Japanese Stranger, whose rumored to be an evil spirit that’s plaguing the small village with terror and death.
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By far, “The Wailing” sets the precedent on folklore horror. Acclaimed writer-director Hong-jin Na lands a harrowingly ambitious, well-constructed film right into the lap of horror fans with “The Wailing,” known also as “Goksung” in the film’s country of South Korea. South Korean filmmakers have once reestablished proof that foreign films can be as masterful, as bold, and as elegant when compared to any other film from major studio productions. Hollywood has started to come around by remaking one of South Korea’s most notorious films, the vengeful thriller “Oldboy,” and seeks to remake recent international hits in “Train to Buscan” and “I Saw the Devil.” Lets also touch upon that top Hollywood actors are beginning to branch out to South Korean films. “Captain America” star Chris Evans had obtained a starring role in Joon-ho Bong’s “Snowpiercer” alongside co-stars Ed Harris and the late British actor Sir John Hurt. “The Wailing” will reach similar popularity being one of 2016’s most original horror movies and one of the more unique visions of terror to clutch the heart of my all time favorite’s list.
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Do-won Kwak stars as Sergeant Jong-Goo, a officer who avoids trouble at all costs and has no motivation to be on time for anything. Kwak, basically, plays the fool character, comically going through the routine of investigating brutal murders complete with stabbings, burnings, and hangings despite his Captain’s constant chastising and seizes every opportunity to act dumb and look stupid, but once the story starts to focus “The Wailing” as nothing more than an offbeat black-comedy, Hong-ja Na devilishly about-faces with a severe turn of events that’s a mixed bag of genres. Kwak no longer plays the lead role of comic relief; instead, a more self-confident Sergeant Jong-Goo takes control of the investigation as the deeper he finds himself involved in the dark plague that’s ravaging his village. He hunts down the Japanese Stranger, the debut South Korean film for long time Japanese actor Jun Kunimura (“Kill Bill,” Takashi Miike’s “Audition”) with a zen like aurora that’s enormously haunting to behold and captivating when his presence is lurking amongst the scene. Though Kunimura’s demeanor contrasts with other actors, he’s very much in tune with the dynamic, but it’s the maniacally, foul-mouth ravings of Hyo-jin, played by Hwan-hee Kim, that stand out and are the most distraught during her possession state that could give “The Exorcist” a run for it’s money and is a visceral vice grip to the soul that has to be experienced. Woo-hee Chun and Jung-min Hwang round out the cast in their respective and memorable co-starring roles as a peculiar no named woman and a flashy shaman.
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“The Wailing” incorporates various folklore stemming from cultures all over the world including the Koreas, China, Japan, and even from China’s bordering neighbor Nepal and meshes them with religious practices of Buddhism to even the far corners that the Catholic faith possesses. The luxuriant green South Korean mountain backdrop sets an isolated, ominous cloud over a beautiful and serene archaic village, an awe-inspiring juxtaposition created by cinematographer Kyung-pyo Hong that coincides with the complete dread piercing through the heart of the story; a perspective vastly opposite to Hong’s works in the previously mentioned “Snowpiercer” that’s set in the tight confines of a class dividing bullet train. “The Wailing” bundles together mythos with visionary concepts and landscapes in an epic mystery-thriller that’s unforgettable; it will cling to you, like a evil-dwelling spirit, well after the film is over.
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20th Century Fox, in association with Ivanhoe Pictures and Side Mirror, produce Hong-jin Na’s top horror contender “The Wailing” with Well Go USA and Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment distributing on DVD and Blu-ray. Unfortunately, I was provided with a DVD-R screener and can’t specifically comment on specifications and image or audio quality. Accompanying the screener were two bonus features: a behind-the-scenes featurette and the beginning tale of “The Wailing” featurette. Both were fairly informative that gives insight on Hong-jin Na’s mindset and how the director’s ambitious story in a malignant tale of comedy, horror, and mysterious involving demons, shamans, and, quite possibly, the devil himself. “The Wailing” significantly captivates, sucking you into the darkness with an uncanny amount of pull with a story too terrifyingly original to avert and too thick with vigorous characters in a plot twist too harrowing to forget.