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Dublin Horrorthon 2013 Review - Big Bad Wolves

A crooked cop and a suspected child-killer find themselves the prisoners of a victim's father.

Directed by: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado
Starring: Tzahi Grad, Guy Adler, Lior Ashkenazi, Dvir Benedek, Rotem Keinan

Dror (Keinan) is the prime suspect in a brutal series of murders of young girls. After a video of an over zealous cop, Miki (Ashkenazi), attempting to beat a confession out of him is released on the internet, the police are forced to release Dror. Miki, however, continues to harass his suspect, abducting Dror to a wooded area in an attempt to scare him into confessing. Arriving on the scene is Gidi (Grad), the father of the latest victim, who knocks both men unconscious. The two men awake in the basement of Gidi's remote cabin and a game of cat and mouse ensues.
'Big Bad Wolves' has proven one of the year's biggest festival hits. The writing/directing duo of Keshales and Papushado broke onto the scene a couple of years ago with 'Rabies', a below par horror film that showed little promise but received a lot of attention due to its billing as "Israel's first horror movie". Compared to its Arab neighbors, Israel has little in the way of a cinematic tradition but this film is so technically impressive you'd believe it came from a nation far more au fait with the film-making trade. The cinematography, lighting, effects and score rival the product of any western cinematic super-power and the acting is top class across the board.
Unfortunately, the film's script lacks class in every way imaginable. Keshales and Papushado present us with a shocking premise involving the rape, torture and murder of children, only for the film to then play out as a comedy caper. The duo want to have their cake and eat it but it's a souffle made in incredibly poor taste. Most troubling is the portrayal of Gidi, who behaves like a Tarantino mobster, spinning humorous monologues as he attempts to force Dror into confessing to his daughter's rape and murder. With his constant quipping he comes off like a supper club comedian rather than someone whose child was brutally killed only days before. When the victim's grandfather shows up he also behaves in the same jokey manner. What kind of a family is this? As soon as this dynamic developed, all the good work of the movie's gripping opening act fell apart for me as the film-makers' immaturity became all too obvious.
Like the films of Tarantino (who has called this his favorite film of 2013) or Eli Roth, 'Big Bad Wolves' gives the impression its creators know nothing about life outside the movies. I have no wish to see anything else from Keshales and Papushado but I look forward to seeing what a talented Israeli film-maker might achieve with the skilled actors and technicians involved here.

Eric Hillis