Big Bad Wolves (2014)

Big Bad Wolves US Theatrical Poster.jpgRed Riding Hood Not Included

Directors: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado
Running Time: 110 Minutes
Starring: Lior Ashkenazi, Rotem Keinan, Tzahi Grad

The film opens with kids playing hide and seek, an innocent enough image in typical circumstances. But these aren't typical circumstances, as the tension builds through thanks to an effective use of the score and the slow motion.

Big Bad Wolves is a dual directorial effort from Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado. The film follows three men: Micki (Ashkenzai), a cop investigating into the case of a serial child-murderer, Dror (Keinan), a man suspected of being said murderer, and Gidi (Grad), a vengeful father of the latest deceased child.

One thing that you won't expect to get from this film is laughs, but they frequently occur to a positive effect. These comedic and lighter moments are utilized well in order to lull the viewer into a false sense of security, where things will then become blistering to an immediate and spine-chilling effect.

To the films advantage, it's made initially ambiguous as to whether Dror is in fact the child murderer these men suspect he is, or if he's an innocent party. Tzahi Grad gives a fantastic performance, playing it well as to whether he sees who Dror truly is, or if he's so consumed with finding vengeance that he thrusts all his suspicions onto this one man. It should be noted that Rotem Keinan and Lior Ashkenazi also do great work with their roles.

Gidi takes the law into his own hands

What is a shame, however, is how lacking the character development is. All we get is a basic logline for each character, be it the cop hellbent on proving the suspect is the killer, the father who will stop at nothing to avenge his child, and the suspected child murderer. Also, the film lacks any real surprises because you can easily see what will come next, especially in the final act.

It's unfair to compare this with Prisoners, an effort which chooses to not include humor in order to focus more on the psychological aspects of losing a child. But many will do so, and overall, Denis Villeneuve's film comes out on top. But despite the flaws, there is still much to admire with this Israeli thriller, especially the blackly comedic aspects and the performances.