Tuesday, January 1, 2019


Die-Ner (Get It?) / The House That Jack Built

Say what you will about The House That Jack Built (I might be inclined to agree with you depending on what the issue is) but it didn’t do the typical serial killer movie “thing” by showing shades of sympathy. There’s no childhood flashback where the protagonist serial killer character is being tortured by his crazy mother or something like that. There were flashbacks in the film but nothing traumatic happened to him. Lars Von Trier was just trying to show us that Jack was wired evil from birth. Now...Lars certainly teetered that Oliver Stone/Natural Born Killers line of having the audience side with/root for the killer in a kind of disasterously comical way but that could be up for debate. While it’s evident to me that Lars is bored with filmmaking (I feel like his last couple of movies were made strictly to provoke first and be good films second), he still took a somewhat unique & original approach to the serial killer genre. You could also go back a few decades and site stuff like Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, Maniac, Angst, etc. Lars definitely traveled down the path that those films carved, but, even in all his boredom, he still brought something unique to the table.

I say all this to say that some of the things that happened in The House That Hack Built reminded me of another semi-recent dark comedy centered around a serial killer in the form of Die-Ner: Get It?. THTJB isn’t the only new-ish serial killer movie to do something new. If you’re familiar with Horvath (and his directing partner Dallas Hallam) then you would know he isn’t a novice at taking an original/abstract approach to the horror genre (read my thoughts on the masterful Entrance for further examples of how Horvath & Hallam’s brains are wired). While Die-Ner may be rough around the edges according to Horvath himself (this was his first feature film), it still planted the seeds for all his work that followed. He considered his debut a huge (positive) learning experience that he still remains proud of...

I took all those lessons learned and used the knowledge to help give Entrance a fighting chance at making it into the world after we shot it - Patrick Horvath

Like THTJB, Patrick Horvath found a loophole in getting the audience to side with/root for an unforgivably terrible person. You’re also allowed to laugh when a murder takes place in both films because they’re true dark comidies (although THTJB has a few more ethical issues to deal with).
In Die-Ner (Get it?) we follow a group of folks trying to fight their way out of a zombie attack at a local a diner. (Hence the title. Get it?) and the de facto leader/main character is a serial killer named (Ken). Instead of the convenient former marine who knows how to use every weapon and is also versed in hand-to-to hand combat, Horvath gives us a sociapathic serial killer.  
Now...in any normal circumstance I’d want nothing to do with a serial killer. But in the case of a zombie apocalypse where you can kill at will (in an effort to survive) that’s the kind of guy/gal I’d want on my side. And when you look at it from the serial killer’s perspective, he’s like a kid in a candy store. Instead of killing innocent civilians, he gets a free pass to kill people (who aren’t even really people anymore so it’s fine). This movie brings up the debate as to whether or not someone is in the wrong place at the wrong time, or, the wrong place at the right time. Or perhaps Ken is in the right place at the right time?

Although Horvath saw things differently than I did. To him, this film was a bit of an existential dilemma for the serial killer in that there's no payoff for committing all the murders he does.

for the serial killer I thought it would be hilarious to give the person a situation where their dead wouldn’t stay dead - Patrick Horvath

So in a sense, you’re free to root for anyone in the film (Ken is still a terrible person even if we caught him at a unique moment in his life) or just watch it from a morally indifferent standpoint and be entertained. 

Die-Ner does what The House That Jack Built tried to do, only slightly better. It also bypasses/sidesteps a lot of the problems that many people had with THTJB.
The only issue is Die-Ner is a little difficult to watch online. There’s a crappy quality/slightly sped-up version up on a certain popular video site, but besides that’s it’s a little tough to come by.
There are DVD’s on Amazon. Given the rise of physical media amongst cinephiles these days, perhaps this is the perfect opportunity to put some money up for the DVD version.


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