Lars Von Trier has a disturbing new movie on the way: a serial killer spectacular titled The House That Jack Built, starring Matt Dillon. The official, rated version of the movie to be released by IFC on December 14 is rated R, but given the movie’s gruesome reputation (the feel good film includes “duckling mutilation and child murder”), the bad boys at IFC also released an unrated version for one night only on Wednesday in several cities.
Understandably, the cops at MPAA weren’t into this. While unrated versions of movies aren’t unheard of (director’s cut, anyone?), the MPAA is arguing that because the unrated version of The House That Jack Built was screened so close to the R-rated release, that those unrated screenings were in violation of MPAA rules. Deadline reports that MPAA says:
The effectiveness of the MPAA ratings depends on our ability to maintain the trust and confidence of American parents. That’s why the rules clearly outline the proper use of the ratings. Failure to comply with the rules can create confusion among parents and undermine the rating system – and may result in the imposition of sanctions against the film’s submitter.
It’s a little disingenuous for the MPAA in this instance to say they enforce these rules (for a one night showing, mind you) on the behalf of “American parents,” considering I don’t think any sane parent would take their child to even the rated version of The House That Jack Built. Acting like poor parents will be confused about which version of a completely inappropriate horror movie to take their kids to is a cheap excuse to go after a very limited specialty screening catering to a niche audience.
MPAA says that as a punishment, the Classification & Ratings Administration “may revoke the rating issued by it to the motion picture.” IFC also might be suspended from participating in the rating system for no more than 90 days.
The MPAA, where rating board members have to be parents, has traditionally been harsh when it comes to ratings; if you say “fuck” twice, chances are you’re getting an R. And that can lead to awkward rating assignments, like when Eighth Grade landed an R-rating, deeming it inappropriate for the exact age group it depicted and starred.
It doesn’t matter if you hate Lars Von Trier and his horror movie, the MPAA is just flexing here for no reason, because they’re certainly not doing this for the children.