Big Bad Wolves (US 2014)

big_bad_wolves_Maniacs are afraid of maniacs.

As the credits open, the story begins. A few children are shown playing hide and seek in a dilapidated house when one young girl disappears. These scenes are shown in slow motion through beautiful filming and haunting classical music. I could tell right away that this one was going to be a winner.

This is only the second Israeli horror film ever made. The first, Kalevet (aka Rabies), was released in 2010 by the same duo writer/directors, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado. I haven’t seen Rabies yet but I am really excited for it after seeing Big Bad Wolves. Big Bad Wolves delivers on what it serves up:  a highly entertaining and new twist on the revenge subgenre. Quentin Tarantino even called it the best film of the year.

Oh my god oh my god oh my god. I said exactly that within the first ten minutes of the film. This one definitely aims to shock; and does so with surprising ease. When the dead young girl is found (a scene I will not go into detail on, but trust me, it’s vicious), the father of the deceased child and a detective taken off the case each have their own agenda of how the perpetrator should be handled. Dror is the presumed pedophile, son of a bitch, rapist. He seems disturbingly normal with a daughter of his own and even teaches bible study to young students (how ironic).

big bad wolvesGidi, the father, buys a beautiful cabin in the middle of nowhere, for obvious reasons when he asks the real estate agent to stand in the basement and scream as loud as she can. But detective Micki gets in his way and he must take both Micki and Dror hostage in his new home to get the answers he is looking for. Gidi tells Dror that he has two options; either he endure all the pain and suffering that his daughter bore or give him a quicker, more humane, death if Dror tells them where his daughter’s missing head is buried.

Dror continually tells the two men that he did not do it, and as the audience, it is hard not to believe him sometimes. If you torture a man long enough, he will confess to anything. What if he is the wrong guy? What if he didn’t do it? Who is really the big bad wolf? There is no room for good cops. It is only bad cop, bad cop here. The torture is awful but it is not as over the top as some other similar films. It’s quite realistic and excruciating. The rising tension and anticipation of what is to come makes me squirm in delight.

Big_Bad_WolvesThis movie does not pan-out in typical horror fashion. It is much more than that. This is what I call a ‘driller’ or drama/thriller with shocking slices of horror thrown in for good measure. For this reason, this film is more approachable for a broader audience than other films of this genre. I can think of a lot of movies with a very similar premise: Daddy’s Little Girl, 7 Days, The Tortured, and Last House on the Left. It’s been done before. But this one is wickedly clever and funny, which adds some much needed comic relieve between the torture scene parts. There are quite a few graphic and gory scenes, but nothing too gratuitous, so people other than horror lovers can enjoy this film. The plot isn’t as straightforward as it seems either. It’s surprising and interesting and humorous and daring. It’s really the perfect recipe for a great film.

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Big Bad Wolves (2013) on IMDb

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