Big Bad Wolves

07/23/2021 06:37

Film: Big Bad Wolves

Year: 2013

Director: Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado

Writer: Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado

Starring: Lior Ashkenazi, Rotem Keinan and Tzahi Grad



This is another movie that I only heard about thanks to podcasts. My initial reaction was that it potentially could be a werewolf movie due to the title. I did come into this without reading a synopsis and just knowing that it was selected as part of the Podcast Under the Stairs’ Summer Challenge Series for 2013. The synopsis here is after a little girl is brutally murdered, a suspect avoids arrest due to the lack of evidence. Working separately, her father and a cop decide to do something about it.

This synopsis is slightly misleading. The movie’s credits are given to us with two girls and a boy playing hide and seek in the woods. The boy is it and the two girls go to hide. They go into a rundown building and we see that there is someone else there with them.

It then shifts to a group of guys dragging another one into what looks like a rundown parking garage. They man they’re holding hostage is Dror (Rotem Keinan). He is tossed into a chair. The man in charge here is Micki (Lior Ashkenazi). With him are Rami (Menashe Noy) and two others. They are looking for a little girl and roughing up Dror as they think he knows what happened to her. This gets cut short when Micki gets multiple calls from Tsvika (Dvir Benedek). They’re told to take Dror home as there is no evidence and it could create problems.

What I was shocked to discover is that this group are police officers. They believe that Dror knows what happened and is behind the disappearance of a young girl. Tsvika is his supervisor and tells him that they need to find out what happened, but they need to leave Dror alone. If Micki messes this up, he’s going to be demoted.

We then shift to a wooded area. Micki and Rami are searching for the little girl when they separate. Rami makes a grisly discovery. The force is called in to process the crime scene and even worse is that the girl’s father shows up. His name is Gidi (Tzahi Grad) and he’s chief of police for a different precinct or something along those lines.

Dror is struggling as well. The children at school know he is accused of the crimes and the parents aren’t happy. His boss comes in to let him know that they have to let him go until this problem blows over. To make matters worse, we see Dror wanting to see his daughter on her birthday, but his wife won’t let him. This is an odd scene as he is watching a group of girls practice ballet. One of them in front seems to recognize him.

With all men struggling currently, we get an interesting montage. Gidi buys a house in the middle of the nowhere and preps the basement with a chair bolted to the ground. He also fits it with straps. Micki is relieved of his duties as a police officer for the time being and Tsvika tells him as a civilian, they can’t stop him from doing anything unless in the act. He is prepping in a different way. Dror gives the girl from the ballet class a birthday cake.

Both Gidi and Micki believe that Dror is the killer they’re looking for. Gidi’s new house becomes the scene as he tries to make him to confess. Is Dror the man they’re looking for or are they torturing an innocent man?

Now I tried to do this recap without going into spoilers. The synopsis gives this basic premise, but there is more to it. Where I want to start is the idea of this movie and my initial impressions. I’ve relayed that I thought this could be a werewolf movie. Instead, we are getting a play on fairy tales, like the three little pigs. Dror is referred to as a wolf when Gidi is reading the details of the case like a fable. There also seems to be a dual meaning here as both Gidi and Micki hunt Dror. They’re convinced he’s the one behind these horrific crimes. One of the strongest parts of the movie is that it leaves us questioning things until the end before giving the answer.

Since this movie is really surrounding these three main characters, I want to break them down a bit here first. Gidi is interesting to me. We briefly meet him at the crime scene where he loses it. He is a broken man. We learn later that he’s harboring more than just guilt about what happened to his daughter. He was neglectful the day that she was taken. His introduction is at the point where he’s broken most that her body has been found. He doesn’t have closure though since the head is still missing as she has been decapitated. Gidi is a dangerous man that he has lost his daughter and he is separated from his wife. All he has left is getting his revenge. It could be misguided though because we don’t know for sure if Dror is the man he is looking for. Grad’s performance here was great as well by the way.

Then I’ll shift over to Micki. He’s a cop that seems like he skirts doing things by the book. It is interesting to watch this movie for the first time with 2021 eyes with all the police brutality going on in my country of the United States. I think that we have a bit of social commentary here about that. Tsvika doesn’t want to suspend Micki, but he has to due to pressure from above. They’re also trying to avoid scandal. Much like with Gidi, it makes me question if they have the right man or not. We never get the evidence to show us, we’re just seeing the lengths he will go to get the confession. There is a great performance here as well with Ashkenazi.

The last character I really want to do a deep dive into would be Dror. When I first saw him getting beat up, I thought it was by gangsters. It does turn out to be police officers which are even worse. The movie really makes you feel sorry for him from the beginning since we aren’t given evidence as to why they think he did it. We then see his students’ passing notes making fun of him and writing inappropriate things on exams about him. He is laid off from work and even his ex-girlfriend/wife not letting him see his daughter. I think Keinan steals the show here. He is tied up and tortured throughout, but despite what he goes through, he maintains his innocence.

That should be enough for the story there, so I’ll shift to the acting from some of the supporting characters. Later in the movie we meet Gidi’s dad of Yoram (Doval’e Glickman). He is forced there by his wife and Gidi’s mother. There is an interesting reveal with him that I wasn’t expecting. This is another good performance. I also liked Noy, Benedek and the rest of the cast in support of our three stars as well.

Next will be the effects. I think this is handled well and in an interesting way. Early we are seeing Dror get smacked around. Once he is taken to Gidi’s, the real torture begins. We see things like him being cut, burned, fingers broken and nails pulled off. It would appear to me that most of this was done practical. The only thing that probably wasn’t was the burn that we see. I was impressed with the realism here across the board. I’ll even be honest that it made me cringe a few times. I would also say that this is shot well and the cinematography looks good.

So then in conclusion here, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get with this movie, but I enjoyed it. There is an interesting idea here of is Dror guilty of this crime like these two men think? It is an interesting concept to not give us any evidence to make our decision until late in the movie. This is really driven by the acting of our three stars of Grad, Askenazi and Keinan. They all do good with the rest of the cast rounding it out with support. The effects help with the realism and the movie is shot well. The soundtrack also has an interesting sound that fit the movie and I rather it enjoyed it on top of that. This isn’t a movie for everyone. You have to be able to handle some graphic violence, but if you can get past that, I would recommend it. I did watch this in its native language of Hebrew with subtitles. I did see there was a dubbed version on the DVD that I have as a heads up as well. For me, this is a good movie overall.


My Rating: 8 out of 10