The three Israeli films at this year’s Tribeca Film Festiva, which ended April 28, reflect an eclectic mix of genres, visions, and views about Israeli culture and the world at large. Two of the films deal with victimization, abuse and culpability.
“Big Bad Wolves” starts out promisingly, with a suspenseful slow-motion opening sequence, as three youngsters play hide and seek near an abandoned cabin in the woods. The audience knows something terrible is going to happen, and indeed, the scene ends with one of the girls gone missing, though her bright red shoe is found. The single shoe is a vivid and evocative touch, hinting at the sudden violence she may have encountered.
Eventually her headless corpse is discovered. She is the most recent victim in a series of grisly murders committed by a pedophile who brutally molests young girls before beheading them. The police believe they have solid evidence against a wimpy religious studies teacher whom they were forced to release on a technicality. Played by Rotem Keinan, the would-be rapist-killer is at once pathetic and creepy.
Regrettably, the film becomes graphically violent, though comedy is thrown into the mix. Between shattering the toes of his intended prey, one of the characters enjoys a cup of soup with his father who arrives on the scene. They talk about mom.
The film’s directors, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, whose debut film “Rabies” was Israel’s first horror flick, are clearly influenced by the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino’s genre-blending aesthetic. And like their American counterparts, they’re offering social commentary. According to their own statement the film’s characters emerge from a society that is so paranoid that the victim inevitably becomes the out-of-control victimizer.