MRR Review: "Big Bad Wolves"

Photo Credit: Magnet Releasing

Rating: NR
Length: 110 minutes
Release Date: January 17, 2014
Directed by: Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado
Genre: Comedy / Crime / Thriller

The story of "Big Bad Wolves" follows the path of three men as they each take a different approach to unraveling a series of gruesome murders. Every trail leads each of the men closer to the truth, all crossing paths in an increasingly funny fashion. Things heat up after a young girl is brutally murdered, fueling the storyline while leading to excitingly morbid and entertaining events.

As more bodies start to crop up surrounding a single school teacher played by Rotem Keinan, a vigilante cop portrayed by Lior Ashkenazi runs off his job to try to catch the culprit. Meanwhile, the father of the most recently murdered child, played by Tzahi Grad, is more caught up in trying to find out where his daughter's head has been resting since its disappearance.

There is an ongoing struggle between the cop and the father as they try to discover whether the school teacher really is responsible. With both the teacher and the officer trapped in the father's basement, each of the men is plagued by their own misdoings and willingness to stop at nothing. A smattering of gruesomeness and gore quickly sets the film down a path of no return in terms of torturing various members of the cast.

This highlights the movie's ongoing theme of fear. The fear that the children and their families express concerning living in the town plagued by kidnappings becomes the backdrop for the more intense distress of the main characters. With most of the film taking place in a dark underground basement, it is easy for each of the actors to bring out the darkness and fear in themselves.

The setting also helps to add a frightening appeal to the overall experience of torture, and it also heightens the fear. The repeated and increasingly awful acts of torture that take place are a nod to the terrible conditions taking place in Israel, the country where the film is shot. The central focus of the movie is the willingness of people to do whatever it takes in their personal pursuit of the truth, though much of what the main characters do is questionable outside the confines of the basement.

On top of that, there are a considerable number of plot twists that make it hard to accept what each character is saying as an individual. Leaps of faith make the fourth wall particularly weak, so for those who prefer tight, dramatic films, this is far from the mark. Additionally, the movie is in Hebrew, so subtitles are necessary unless viewers are bilingual. The translation creates more tension on top of the already twisting plot line. However, viewers are still able to keep up with the momentum of the movie.

Although a few lines seem campy and forced, viewers also experience plenty of witty, interesting dialog throughout the movie. None of the characters come out of the basement unscathed, but there is still a subtle element of character development throughout the film. The audience and the cast are on vastly different levels as all the players are involved in gruesome atrocities, creating a new level of mystery that keeps the audience guessing. Instead of empathizing with the father, feeling bad for the teacher or taking up the quest for knowledge like the police officer, characters often seem unforgiving and unforgivable throughout the torturous sequences.

The shining moment of the film comes when the reason for killing the young children is revealed. As a religious studies teacher, it makes sense that Keinan's character is doing what he does, and each of the other players gains insight into how complex the country has become. The biggest leap of faith takes place when the characters are trying hard to do their best, and for the three main actors, this conclusion is fitting for what each of their characters set out to accomplish. It is difficult to relate to some of the central themes, but there are plenty of fun moments that help relieve tension and redeem some of the unappealing qualities of the characters.

"Big Bad Wolves" plays to its title and leaves it to viewers to determine the truth. Whether the little girl is truly murdered by the teacher remains a mystery. This intense, gritty film is not for those with a weak stomach, as the torturous scenes are not limited to those involving the teacher. Viewers who are looking for an exciting movie with a fascinating plot line are sure to enjoy what "Big Bad Wolves" has to offer.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5