The new year has barely begun, but we’ll be hard pressed to find a movie as disturbing — on many levels — as the darkly comic Israeli thriller “Big Bad Wolves.”
It’s about the torture of an accused child molester-serial killer. The torturers are sure they have their guy. The accused keeps protesting his innocence and suffering horribly.
We see cops tase the guy’s dog, kidnap him, beat him with a phone book, bloody him and ruin his life. The police smirk and joke around as they carry out this destruction.
“Maniacs aren’t afraid of guns,” one experienced toenail-yanker says, justifying this lunacy. “Maniacs are afraid of maniacs.”
So, that’s just who the cops become — maniacs.
And chillingly, co-writers / directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado intercut grim crime-scene moments and extended, dread-building torture sessions with chuckles at the funny ring tones on this or that cop’s phone, at the bullying butterball son of the rotund police chief (Dvir Benedek of the Israeli sumo comedy, “A Matter of Size”) who parrots his dad’s criticism of loose-cannon cop Micki (Lior Ashkenazi).
A game of hide-and-go-seek ends with a little girl snatched from the closet of the abandoned house she and her friends are playing in. We aren’t given the “evidence” the cops have for making mild-mannered school teacher Dror (Rotem Keinan) their one and only suspect. Next thing you know, four cops are dragging Dror into an empty warehouse and beating his head in with a phone book. A hidden teen tapes the torture on his phone.
But when that video goes viral, there’s no outrage. Kids in Dror’s junior high school class laugh at it and assume the police must have had good reason. His boss is the same way.