Maniacs are afraid of Maniacs.
BIG BAD WOLVES (2013) is an Israeli thriller written and directed by Aharon Keshales, and Navot Papushado tells a brutal tale of intellectual vigilantism that starts out as a fairy tale: three children are playing a game of hiding and seek when one of the girls vanishes without a trace. Soon after that, her father Gidi (Tzahi Grad) sets out to find her. Meanwhile, Rami (Menashe Noy) and a few of his good cop/bad cop friends are brutally interrogating a considerably courteous considering the terrible circumstances–Dror (Rotem Keinan), a religious studies teacher. What does Gidi, Rami, and Dror have in common? Well, they are the proverbial Big Bad Wolves in this tale. There is serial child rapist on the loose, and it is up to a doting father, and a lousy dissident cop to find and stop this sick bastard from harming other girls.
The cops in this story have nothing more to go on in the arrest of Dror (Keinan) other than he was seen leaving, or shall I say, running from the scene where the missing girl was found bound, raped and beheaded. While Rami believes that Dror is his man, he is having difficulties with connecting the suspect to the murder of the young girl. He decides to stalk his suspect. However, his surveillance is interrupted when Gidi (Grad) decides to exact his investigation, and Rami, now a suspended cop, for a time, goes along with Gidi’s plans for revenge. Through a series of carefully torturous moments for confession–a pair of rusty pliers used to pull off toenails; breaking fingers, on the one hand, one by one and a rusty hammer to crush the bones in the other side. All these brutal familiarizations go down in an isolated cabin basement in the woods.
The violence in “Wolves” raises enough concern with the legitimacy of torturing a yet-to-be-found guilty suspect. While the action draws heavily on the killer “techniques” used to torture and kills his victims (breaking each of the victim’s fingers, ripping off their toenails), viewers are forced to sit through the sordid event one detail at a time. In a similar method of narrative storytelling used by Tarantino, who in 2013 tout “Wolves” as one of the “best film of the year,” favors Tarantino’s niche for drawn-out torture scenes and dialogue’s quirky attempts at comedy–just before Gidi begins to torture Dror–his telephone rings. His mother is on the other end, and he must take the call, joking that his ringtone for his mother is “cute” for a man who prides himself on being violent.
The film’s dry humor attempts to take away from the intense torture scenes. Watching someone have their nails ripped off with a pair of rusty pliers is not funny in the least. However, it offers viewers that much-needed break in between the beatings and waiting for the cake to bake laced with sedatives.
The ending could have been much better, however. All jokes aside, this is a dark film that begs the question: how far is too far?
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