Quentin Tarantino named Big, Bad Wolves his favorite movie of the year. Certainly this film's quiet, playful treatment of torture and its excessively bloody denouement is in the Tarantino vein. But Wolves derives its rampant ick factor from darker, less self-aware sensibilities than Tarantino. After debuting on the festival circuit last fall, the Israeli film screens at the Texas Theatre this weekend, but I can only offer a recommendation for strong-willed, somewhat twisted moviegoers.
The New York Times called it a "foul tale foully told." A serial killer is targeting little girls, brutalizing and decapitating them. One detective will use any force necessary to hunt him down. Of course, this vigilante policeman thinks he's found the man and his abusive chase gets him ejected from the force. With the help of a victim's father, he captures his suspect and the film's remaining hour is a savage interrogation that starts off with a creepy reading of the Red Riding Hood fairytale.
This is the first psychological thriller for directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, who previously created a string of slasher flicks. Big, Bad Wolves seems to be an amalgam of both, combining the guessing game of a disturbed mystery story with the jump scenes and squeamish violence of a slasher.
Through the lens of self-referential horror films of directors like Tarantino, Wolves makes more sense: the slow pacing, the humorous music, the anti-heroes. And the perverse subject matter is kept at a distance, in large part because of the language barrier and use of subtitles.
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As the action escalates and the layers in storytelling are pulled back, the alleged killer/pedophile loses a lot of body parts, skin and blood, while the final moments of the film bring together small, seemingly insignificant moments that came before, a la the climactic scene in Oldboy. Compared with that film's nasty turn, Big, Bad Wolves looks like a comedy. A sick, darker than black, perverted comedy. See it if you dare at 9:45 p.m. Friday, 6:15 p.m Saturday or 9 p.m. next Thursday.