An interview with Big Bad Wolves writer director Aharon Keshales
Opens Jan 17 at Cineplex Y+D in Toronto, The Vic Theatre in Victoria and The Mayfair in Ottawa
Big Bad Wolves is a first, a psychological thriller slasher film from a country that has never ventured into that territory until now. It’s a gripping, intelligent and beautifully shot revenge tale about the father of a murder victim seeking his child’s killer, a local policeman gone rogue and a religious studies professor hiding dangerous secrets. It keeps us off balance, as one by one the characters take power and have it taken away and none other than Quentin Tarantino calls it “the best film of 2013”. I spoke with director Aharon Keshales from Israel.
A "slasher" movie hasn't been made until now in Israel, why not?
People used to say that Israel has enough terror in reality so why put more horror on the screen. "Rabies" proved this notion to be wrong. There is real horror and there's cinematic horror. The latter is cathartic and fun to watch. Things are starting to change. Government funds have special channels for genre films. "Big Bad Wolves" had full government backing and the future looks red.
Big Bad Wolves is smart, creepy, and hypnotic, how did you find that nice balance?
We always try to find the humanity within a monster and the monstrosity within a human being. That dictates the tone. We use dark humour to lure the spectator and make him lower his defense system and then we hit him with a hammer. The abrupt shift between the comic elements and the horrific scenes create a bi-polar experience for the viewer. The cinematography is also tricky in "Big Bad Wolves". We use cinemascope and very lucid camera movements (almost dreamlike) so you would feel as if you were in a fairy tale but we use this easy on the eye aesthetic while we show some really atrocious deeds. This contradiction is a hard thing to swallow. There's no magic formula. You just aim for the best and hope your vision was good enough to lure your faithful audience into your story. Our secret is to have a very dynamic plot. In order to that you have to play a lot with audience expectations, plot wise and tone wise.
Is the film meant to be psychologically accurate?
You always aim your script to be psychologically accurate and we do believe that parents have a sixth sense. They can always sense there's something wrong with their children. Sometimes they even envision it before something bad happens. Jewish mothers are psychic and whenever they give you an advice you better take it.
The power balance is constantly shifting which reflects life. Nice touch.
We do believe so. Our favourite film in the world is "The Good, the Bad & the Ugly". This film sums up the human experience for us. Everybody gets to be good in his life, everybody gets to be bad in his life and everybody gets to be ugly. The most astonishing aspect in Sergio Leone's western is that he turned the ugly into the most beautiful character in the film.
What inspired the script, was it based on a real case?
No true story. There are no serial killers in Israel. We wanted to make a film that deals with a suspected pedophile and his shattered life. Then we wanted to make a film about a vigilante cop. Then we wanted to make a film about a vindictive father. Then we decided to make all three films in the same movie. When we pitched the idea to our producer we told him the following: What if dirty Harry wandered by mistake into a Korean revenge film written by the Brothers Grimm?