Big Bad Wolves
Israeli writer-directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado followup their 2010 debut Rabies with another tar-black comic horror. While investigating a series of gruesome child murders, tough detective Miki (Ashkenazi) becomes convinced the guilt lies with seemingly benign religious-studies teacher Dror (Keinan). Also convinced of this is Gidi (Grad), father to one of the victims, who intends to kidnap their suspect and extract the truth from him. The three men are set for a bloody, morally murky confrontation.
Given the heavily emotive subject matter (paedophilia, the efficacy of torture, Israel’s role in Palestine, etc.), Keshales and Papashudo needed to be right on their mettle to produce a thought-provoking work. For the most part, they succeed. Twisted, tense and absurd, this is highly skilled genre fare, with terrific performances and superb design. Ambivalence to some of the weightier philosophical and political themes is the only thing holding it back from being great; while one can understand the filmmakers’ desire to debate rather than dictate, one also wishes these wolves had gone for the jugular. [Chris Fyvie]