This is one fairy tale you wouldn’t want to tell your kids before tucking them into bed at night. In fact, that motivation served as the inspiration behind the conceiving of this horror story from acclaimed Israeli filmmakers Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, Big Bad Wolves. As Keshales noted before introducing the film, screening in the Midnight series at this year’s AFI Film Festival, they decided to “write a revenge film against their parents, a very grim fairy tale to teach them all a lesson.” What transpires onscreen is just that, in this twisted horror story where pedophilia is the evil of the movie.
Marrying torture porn elements with darkly funny moments (in which the filmmakers encouraged the audience to laugh), this story of a young girl’s brutal murder, and of the rogue detective and mad father who attempt to bring a suspect to justice, is a wild, if not altogether too tame, outing for the unnerving.
Wolves achieves its balance of brutal blows, along with the many moments of humor, which add to the film’s absurdity.
Perhaps most interesting about Big Bad Wolves is its combination of tonal elements, altogether unseen in mainstream American horror films, and saved for B-rated gross-out Midnight flicks. And while watching such a horrifying moment as the tracking shot of gummy candy trail in a forest, leading to a chair of a tied up and lifeless young girl, is as unsettling to see as are the scenes of a suspicious schoolteacher being savagely tortured for information of the girl’s, let’s say, further remains, the film as a whole could have benefited from even more consistently disturbing action, in the vein of unsparing Grindhouse fashion.
Though it should be noted that, like Wolves, the filmmakers’ previous horror success Kalevet (Rabies, in English) stood alone as a groundbreaking movie in Israeli horror, previously unseen in its own much more conservative culture. In this regard, Wolves achieves its balance of brutal blows, along with the many moments of humor, which add to the film’s absurdity. What results is a film whose net is cast wide, covering, ultimately, enjoyable ground. But when you make a horror fairy tale of a film about the twisted nature of pedophilia, it would certainly benefit the film to fall a little further down the rabbit’s hole.