The serial killer who inspired Matt Dillon’s Jack

Lars von Trier’s 2018 horror film The House That Jack Built stars Matt Dillon, who used an infamous serial killer to bring Jack to life.

In The house Jack built, Jack’s crimes are representative of every layer of Dante’s grand design. The deeper he delves into murderous details, the deeper the characters delve into hell. Dante is probably the architect of the modern concept of hell and its punishments, while, on the contrary, Jack is shown as an architect of his own murderous project. In order, the circles of hell include limbo, lust, gluttony, greed (greed), anger, heresy, violence, fraud, and betrayal. Satan and Judas reside in the ninth circle as they are known for treacherous acts, in which, at the end of the film, Jack joins the notorious traitors.

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In pursuit of his role as Jack, Dillon used none other than prolific serial killer Ted Bundy as inspiration for the characterization of the film’s killer. Dillion stated during filming that Bundy was the perfect influence for the character, with Dillon’s performance and crimes included in The house Jack built perfectly crystallizing the actor’s certainty. While Bundy committed his crimes in the 1970s, he was regarded as the human embodiment of evil, devoid of empathy and remorse. This equation alone makes Ted Bundy and Jack two of a kind, the epitome of malevolence, but there’s so much more to their similarities.

How Ted Bundy inspired Matt Dillon’s Jack

the house that Jack built the film

Ted Bundy was known for his charm and good looks, which gave him a large following of young women who fought for his innocence despite the certainty of his guilt. Taking inspiration from the infamous killer, Dillon used Bundy’s sociopathic diagnosis to create a character that externally presented the archetypes of psychopathology. Jack also has various relationships with women who are wholly unaware of his crimes, as was Bundy before the start of his killing spree in the Pacific Northwest. Both of these killers, real or imaginary, have been shown to use their charisma to manipulate women in relationships or situations where they are alone, strangely highlighting Bundy’s core modus operandi.

Historically, once the sociopathic killer Bundy was alone with his victims, he would proceed to kill them in the most nefarious way. Similarly, Jack describes several incidents in the film where he finds women alone to hunt them for sports or brutally kill them in any way he wishes. While Bundy’s official toll is thirty, law enforcement is presumed to have killed far more people. On the contrary, according to The house Jack built, Jack killed over sixty people, which can be attributed to the alleged number of Bundy’s royal bodies by some law enforcement.

When Lars von Trier wrote his script, it’s hard to deduce whether he used Bundy as the inspiration for the character, or whether it was an artistic license from Matt Dillon. Regardless, Dillon undoubtedly saw the similarities between his character and Bundy, subsequently researching every detail, facial expression and subtle mannerism of the infamous serial killer to bring Jack to life. The house Jack built deftly examines the rise of a serial killer and offers a unique glimpse into Jack’s mind; distinguishing himself from similar offerings by creating a fictional character who is still immersed in eerie reality. Dillion’s performance and dedication to his craft, intelligently connecting the dots between Jack and Ted Bundy, only add to the horrors of von Trier’s gripping film.

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