- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: Big Bad Wolves

Also known as:
Mi mefahed mezeev hara (Original title)

Year: 2013

Genre: Thriller / Crime / Comedy

Language: Hebrew / Arabic

Runtime: 110 min

Director: Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado

Writer: Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado


Young girls are found raped, murdered and decapitated, and a teacher is the main suspect. When a cop and the father of one of the victims are both hunting him down, he's soon tied and tortured in a basement until he reveals the truth. It quickly turns into a triangle drama when the father is uncertain whether he can trust the cop or not.

Our thoughts:
Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado became filmmakers to remember after their success with their horror debut "Rabies", which also stood out as the first horror feature from Israel. "Big Bad Wolves" blew up during its festival circuit, getting fantastic reviews and hyperbole quotes from most people. I hear festival hype all the time, but I don't listen to it very often. But as this is a movie that can be compared to the revenge/crime flicks of South Korea, I was honestly happy when I got the chance to review Njutafilms' release of it.

It starts out in a chilling, slow motion sequence of little kids playing hide and seek, ending with one of the girls disappearing. This is just one of several young girl victims that are kidnapped, raped, tortured and decapitated by a mad man on the loose. When a victim is found in a park, a cop gets personally invested even though he has just lost his position due to his unorthodox ways of getting the truth out of someone. Also eager to get his hands on the killer is the father of the little girl that was found. Both the cop and the father have their eyes on the same suspect - a teacher at her school. The two are not entirely on the same side, but they're both open to using the same violent technique to get the truth out of their suspect. But it's not as easy as it seems...

"Big Bad Wolves" deals with a very heavy subject. It's not just a pedophile, not just a child murderer. It's about a man who sedates, rapes, tortures and kills them. The movie starts out very strong without being graphic, and it grabs its viewers instantly. We want the killer dead, and we're ready to follow these men through their revenge. But something happens. The movie shows a comedic side. A very dark one, which actually had me laughing out loud at times due to its great timing in inappropriately dark humor. It doesn't make light of the subject, which is important to add. It's still a dark movie about fucked up crimes. The addition of comedy simply adds character to the movie, making a much more fresh take on the disturbing revenge genre.

The actors are nothing short of excellent, the main three people take us through the movie without a low moment. They're different tastes completely, and the performances are great even when we don't like the characters (for obvious reasons). The cinematography is great when it needs to be, but subtle and laid back when it requires it too. Most of the movie takes place in a basement, that's where we don't need spectacular cinematography techniques, but I was mesmerized by the artful opening scene which laid the ground for the rest of the movie. There are moments like these. They are few but very important to the entire atmosphere of the movie.

Now, "Big Bad Wolves" is a great movie. It had me fascinated and hooked meanwhile it also had fun parts. The movie does have flaws though. It's a lot more predictable than it tried to be. Few moments take you by surprise. I also feel like the movie didn't take the time it needed to fully develop an effective end. Yes, it's 2 hours long and that's plenty enough for most movies, but "Big Bad Wolves" has something going on that it doesn't use to its fullest potential. This is why it doesn't reach the heights of some of the South Korean movies of similar nature like "Memories of Murder" and "The Chaser". "Big Bad Wolves" isn't at all as violent as these movies either, but that's not what differs them the most.

I strongly suggest that you watch "Big Bad Wolves". It has its flaws, but it is far more impressive and engaging than the majority of movies coming out of the mainstream. The movie is unique enough to stand up against the predictable parts of it, not to mention how much I enjoyed its characters. It's beautiful when needed, but mostly it's an effective murder mystery with a torture route. Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado are showing no signs of stopping with this one, so I think it's safe to assume they're ready to punch of further.

Positive things:
- Effective use of dark comedy.
- Disturbing without being graphic.
- Fantastic opening sequence.
- Great actors!

Negative things:
- Somewhat predictable.
- Could actually have been longer to develop a bit further before the end.

Gore: 2/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 4/5
Effects: 3.5/5
Comedy: 2.5/5

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