Review: Big Bad Wolves / Cert: 18 / Director: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado / Screenplay: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado / Starring: Lior Ashkenazi, Rotem Keinan, Tazhi Grad, Dvir Benedek / Release Date: Out Now
Big Bad Wolves is the latest film from Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, the pair behind 2010’s Rabies, and it’s a cracker. Dark, sinister, twisted, tense, yet humorous and well thought-out, Big Bad Wolves is one of those films that not everyone will know about but that everyone should know about. Israeli cinema isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think of fantastic horrors and thrillers. The masterfully delivered Asian horrors of the past two decades; glossy, stylised American affairs; gritty, feral and raw French cinema? They all instantly spring to mind. Keshales and Papushado are doing their very best to change that though.
The basic premise of Big Bad Wolves centres on a sadistic child-killer who is tormenting Israel. We’re introduced to Miki (Ashkenazi), a determined, hard-hitting, uncompromising cop who is initially assigned to the case. When Miki’s heavy-handed actions threaten to make a mockery of the case against the prime suspect, he finds himself suspended. Hell-bent on forcing mild-mannered Dror (Keinan) to confess to the vile crimes, Miki has to form an unlikely partnership. Unassuming and ominously looming in the background of this main story arc, we have Gidi (Grad), the father of a young girl who was tortured by the still-at-large serial killer. With torture and truth the order of the day, just who is the real victim in all of this?
From the moment that you hear the first note of the score to Big Bad Wolves – not to mention the early kick to the balls – it has you gripped. The balance of the film is beautifully managed, with scenes of extreme violence being intertwined with moments of light relief. The result keeps you on the edge of your seat and never allows you to get too comfortable in your surroundings. That said, don’t expect the movie to just be violence and dark humour. No, no, no. There are some very real, serious and visceral angles to Big Bad Wolves, and the movie poses various questions in regards to morality, justice, guilt, and truth.
Keshales and Papushado deliver a very minimalistic and raw feature, yet it also manages to be very sleek, smooth and sophisticated at the same time. Beautifully shot and edited, Big Bad Wolves is one of the best constructed thrillers in recent memory. Not content with merely looking great, the film is brilliantly brutal in its delivery and execution, and you will find yourself deeply immersed in the often-changing dynamic of the three principal characters. From the calm, composed and calculated menace of Grad’s Gidi, to Ashkenazi’s truth-seeking hard-ass Miki, to Keinan’s mild-mannered would-be killer, Dror, Big Bad Wolves serves up some brilliant performances for its audience.
Big Bad Wolves is one of those rare gems that creeps on you. It may not be on everyone’s radar, but, after seeing it, you’ll be dying to spread the word. The only downer for us is that the worldwide release date of the film seems to be uncertain at this point, so it’s a case of just keeping your eyes and ears to the ground and catching the film when you can. Trust us, though: if you get the chance to see Big Bad Wolves, eat it up.