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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Big Bad Wolves

May 11th, 2014

Big Bad Wolves - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Big Bad Wolves is an Israeli thriller that came out last year in its native country and earlier this year in America. The buzz was good, as were its reviews, but it opened well below the Mendoza Line and quickly disappeared. Granted, thrillers are not known for success in limited release, but this is still disappointing. Was the film really this bad? Or was it just the wrong genre and should perform better on the home market?

The Movie

The film begins with three children playing hide and seek near and inside an abandoned building. One of the girls is quickly caught, but when they go to find the other, all they find is a shoe. We then cut to another abandon building where a couple of cops are dragging a man, Dror out. The lead cop, Micki, and two of the cops perform some "intense interrogation". In other words, they hit him a lot while Micki asks where the girl is. Only Rami, Micki's direct boss, is worried they are going to far. In their defense, this is not the first kid killed recently. They were supposed to tail him and see if he would lead them to the girl, but Dror spotted the cops, so beating a confession out of him is Plan B. What they weren't planning for was being spotting by a kid, who records the beating and uploads it to YouTube. Eventually they have to let him go.

While Micki is being reprimanded by Tsvika, his boss's boss, the cops receive an anonymous call from a man claiming to know where the little girl is. Micki and Rami head to where the caller said and they find the girl, tied to a chair in the woods. She had been raped, tortured, and she's missing her head. As a result, Micki is removed from the case. Just after Micki is told to leave the crime scene, Gidi, the father of the murdered girl, shows up.

Later we see Dror at work. He's a school teacher, but the parents, and even some of the kids, have seen the YouTube video and his Principal is forced to let him go. As he's leaving work, we see Micki following him checking him out. What Micki doesn't know is that Gidi is also following him, and checks both of them out. He has to leave when his real estate agent, Eti, has a place that's perfect for him. He told her he needs a quiet place in the middle of nowhere to write. When he gets there, he most interested in the basement. You can probably guess why. But before his plan can get anywhere, the YouTube video of the cops beating Dror goes viral and Micki is suspended. Tsvika points out that because he's suspended, he's a civilian and civilians can do what they want, as long as they don't get caught.

With that tacit permission, Micki goes about his plan to kidnap Dror. It doesn't go quite as smoothly as he had hoped, but after a short foot race, Micki tazes Dror and kidnaps him. ... Once out in the woods, Micki forces Dror to dig his own grave before demanding to know where the heads are. He doesn't get far Gidi knocks him unconcious and in turn kidnaps both Micki and Dror. When Gidi gets to his new home in middle of nowhere, he explains to Micki that he has two options. He can either kill Micki and frame him for what he's about to do to Dror. Or Micki can become his accomplish. Micki chooses option two.

While this movie is a crime thriller, it could also be called a black comedy, because there are some comedic moments in the movie. So Big Bad Wolves is a dark comedy about the father of a little girl who is torturing the person he thinks raped, tortured, and murdered his daughter. That alone should be enough to convince a lot of people that this movie isn't for them. If you think that subject matter is too much, I'm not even going to try to convince you otherwise. If you are intrigued if the filmmakers can pull off such a difficult genre, and even more difficult subject matter, then I can answer your question. Yes they did. Amazingly, while there are some cringe-inducing moments in the movie, it was incredibly engaging thanks to the performances of the three main actors. (Technically there are four, but I can't say who the fourth character is, because they are introduced late.) The filmmakers were also masterful at the changing tone of the film. The transitions from humor to horror actually aided the film, when this issue tends to kill most such movies. Granted, it is still not for everyone, but if the premise intrigues you, the execution is excellent.

The Extras

I only have the DVD and the only real extra is a 16-minute making of featurette, which is definitely worth checking out. There is also the usual featurette called AXS TV: A Look At..., but it's only three minutes and not very in-depth.

I don't have the Blu-ray, so I can't talk about its technical presentation. I can talk about the price. It is just $15, which is $2 or 15% more than the DVD, which is an excellent deal.

The Verdict

Big Bad Wolves is a black comedy about a very disturbing topic, but yet it is not as difficult to watch as I was expecting. The writing manages to move between tones effortlessly, while the performances are incredible. On the downside, neither the DVD nor the Blu-ray have a lot of extras. They are still worth picking up and at just $15, the Blu-ray is the better deal.

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Filed under: Video Review, Big Bad Wolves, Dvir Benedek, Lior Ashkenazi, Rotem Keinan, Tzahi Grad, Menashe Noy, Nati Kluger, Ami Weinberg