A killer is on the loose. This psychopath abducts young girls and after he has his way with them in every horrible way possible, he leaves them to be found, spread out in all their horror…missing their heads. It’s a sick message. “I’ve given you your daughter back, only because I am done with her, but you’ll never have all of her.” Miki is a police detective who is dead certain they have their man, but the little guy won’t confess his crimes no matter how much they try to beat it out of him. When his latest stomp-fest goes viral, Miki is off the case, but not off the hunt. As he stalks an unassuming teacher of religion, waiting for this man to strike again, another watches them both…and when things don’t escalate as quickly as either had hoped, they take matters into their own hands. Now the lines are drawn but at the same time, blurred. Miki wants justice, but he will only go so far to get the truth. This clashes with the agenda of Gidi, the father of the killer’s last victim, who is also certain the killer is in front of him and is fully resigned to torture the man as horribly as he tortured his victims. All the while, the teacher tied up before them sticks to his claims of innocence even in the face of grisly torture. Could they have the wrong man?
What Big Bad Wolves does expertly is to keep you thinking. Those who love to unravel the murder mystery in the first ten minutes of any given film will be left scratching their heads far into the action. The film makers give little glimpses as to each player’s nature, but no real solid clues as to their true motives. Miki is clearly down for bending the rules to see justice, but is all this bravado just a front for his true, sadistic nature? After all, what could be more fun than leading the cops on a chase from the inside! Gidi claims he is seeking justice for the death of his daughter, but what if he has grown tired of his games and is looking to wrap the whole case up with two scapegoats left holding the bag; one as killer and one as the killer’s murderer? Finally, we have the teacher in the chair; ostracized from his school over the allegations of murder, even though in the video which brought this to light clearly shows HE was the victim of police brutality. Another role; the loving father kept from seeing his daughter. A quiet man..with a little dog..who couldn’t hurt a fly. It would be the ultimate fakeout to point to this man, lead us to believe he is the killer, and then steer it completely in another direction. TOO MANY OPTIONS!! Excellent story telling.
When you put the genius of this murder mystery aside, you are left with an excellent cast of actors playing incredibly likable characters, save for the man in the chair. It’s more than a little funny we are meant to bond with the crew doing all the torturing rather than empathizing for the man being tortured. A statement on society? I don’t care…it’s damn fun. Miki is slightly vulnerable and often off guard, but trying his best to roll with every situation. Gidi displays an almost gleeful peace in his torturing methods. He is done being angry over the loss of his daughter. Now, he will take pleasure in seeing her tormentor suffer...without a twitch of remorse. I also find it comical that a situation like this would normally be labeled “torture porn”, but remove the gore for the sake of gore and add an insanely charismatic cast, and the label goes right out the window. Make no mistake..the things done in this movie are pretty vicious and will most likely leave you flinching like crazy, squirming in your seat long after the act is done and horrible sound accompanying it has ceased.
With superb pacing and hysterical strings of dialogue followed by gut wrenching violence all shot with an eye for tension and drama, Big Bad Wolves emerges from Fantasia as a film worthy of a major theatrical release. These film makers understand how to make an audience drop their guard with a laugh and then recoil in terror seconds later. This magical mix always makes for great fun, and is my favorite film tonic. As Heather Buckley pointed out, the film also draws comparisons against its native Israeli life. The teacher of religion, beaten by the government and meant to feel like the guilty party. Weather he is guilty or not is of no concern to the public. The police force totally accepting of using a strong arm to beat a confession out of a suspect for a speedy resolution. Then we have the father…ex-military..well versed in torture and obviously unflinching in inflicting pain on a subject. Strong statements, indeed...and all without battering you over the head with it. One could argue this statement could mirror the American systems as well. All mirroring of society and politics aside, Big Bad Wolves is just a fantastically crafted thriller, wound so tightly you’ll be on the edge of your seat the entire time. This is only the second film for the team of Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, following on the heels of Rabies (another excellent horror film!) Here’s hoping Hollywood takes notice and gives this crew everything they need to continue making superior cinema until they are old and grey.