Saturday, January 4, 2014

Review: BIG BAD WOLVES (2013)


Distributor: Magnolia Releasing
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Audio: Hebrew with English Subtitles 
Directors: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado
Cast: Lior Ashkenazi, Rotem Keinan, Tzahi Grad, Dov Glickman, Menashe Noy, Rami, Dvir Bebedek

BIG BAD WOLVES (2013) comes to us from demented duo of writer/directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado who first popped up on my radar with RABIES (2010), a nasty slice of bloodbath cinema with a dark streak of humor. 
The duo's latest is a kidnapping thriller that touches on some pretty dark subject matter. A deranged sicko is abducting, raping and dismembering young girls, the staged bodies are discovered minus their heads and with the toenails removed, it's a stomach churning nightmare scenario for any parent to even contemplate. The prime suspect is a religious studies teacher named Dror (Rotem Keinan), but with no actual evidence against him other than suspicion a desperate detective (Lior Ashkenazi) attempts to illicit a confession with brute force but fails. The incident of police brutality is captured on video and posted on YouTube and in the aftermath rogue detective Mickey (Lior Ashkenazi) is relieved of his position and Dror loses his teaching job when parents protest the suspected child killer's employment. 

Enter a desperate father named Gidi (Tzahi Grad) who mourns for his daughter, a victim of the child killer. Gidi is out for revenge and  he and the vigilante detective uncomfortably join forces, kidnapping the suspected predator and strapping him to a chair in a basement in an effort to squeeze a confession through whatever means necessary, no matter how repulsive.

They really put the screws to Dror, the torture sequences had me squirming in my seat, it's pretty uncomfortable stuff. So it's pretty dark but then there are moments of dark humor, suddenly we're baking a cake and then Gridi's aged father shows up and take parts in the proceedings, the scent of burning flesh making him nostalgic for beef, there's definitely some very weird and dark humor peppered throughout the film. 

Honestly, as thrillers go there's not a lot new under the sun with BIG BAD WOLVES, it's just assembled with just the right amount of tension and precision and executed wonderfully, and that fantastic sense of dark humor sharpens the point of the more horrific elements, it definitely had a Coen Brothers sensibility about it. . 

The cast is superb, the cinematography is rather nice and the ominous score from Moshe Edery sounds fantastic, this is straight-up good stuff. Director/writers Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado are ones to watch, this is without a doubt an early contender for best of 2014, a razor-sharp thriller with a throbbing vein of black comedy that will have you wondering if this guy did or not right up till the end, this is highly recommended. 
4 Outta 5 

BIG BAD WOLVES (2013) comes to theaters, On Demand and iTunes on January 17th.  Check out a screening at the following theaters, hopefully it's screening somewhere near you.

Chicago, IL: Music Box
New York, NY: Cinema Village

Miami, FL: O Cinema Wynwood

Columbus, OH: Gateway Film Center 8
Scottsdale, AZ: Shea 14 Theatre


Charlotte, NC: Movies @ CrownPoint 12

Dallas, TX: Texas Theatre
North Kansas City, MO: Screenland Armour 2
Tucson, AZ: The Loft Cinema
Winston-Salem, NC: Aperture Cinema

Salem, MA: Cinema Salem 3

Ooltewah, TN: Barking Legs Theater