Israeli thriller hits AFI Silver

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A scene from Big Bad Wolves Photo courtesy of Spooky Movie International Film Festival
A scene from Big Bad Wolves
Photo courtesy of Spooky Movie International Film Festival

The title Big Bad Wolves may hint at something that involves Little Red Riding Hood, but the Israeli thriller film deals with nothing of the sort.

The film makes its D.C. area debut tomorrow at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, as part of the annual Spooky Movie International Horror Film Festival that opened Oct. 10. The Embassy of Israel is co-sponsoring the screening.


Written and directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado (responsible for Israel’s 2011 cult hit Rabies), Big Bad Wolves premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival back in April and had its Israel release in August.

The film revolves around a string of brutal murders that bring together three men: the vengeful father of the latest victim, a rogue police detective and the main suspect of the murders, who happens to be a religious studies teacher. The film, which stars Lior Ashkenazi and Guy Adler, has been described as having elements of crime thriller, horror and black comedy, with shocking twists and subversive political subtext.

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It has been met with critical acclaim from the likes of The Hollywood Reporter and The Playlist, and most recently, Academy Award-winning director Quentin Tarantino.

The Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds director dubbed it as “the best film of the year” after he attended its screening at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea last Friday.


Curtis Prather, the founder of Spooky Film Fest, agrees with the praise.

“It is easily one of the best films I’ve seen this last year. Period,” Prather says. “It’s one of my favorite films in the last 10 years. I think you’ll see it show up in top 10 lists.”

Wolves won’t have a commercial release until 2014, so tomorrow is the only night fans will be able to see a screening for some time. “I know some hard-core fans who have circled the 18th on their calendars,” Prather says.

Prather, a big supporter of AFI Silver, says he was very fortunate to have found Wolves during the screening process, which usually begins the last day of the previous festival.

He says that those involved with the festival look for films that get a lot of attention at big film festivals throughout the year. “During the course of the year, there are quite a few movies we [hope to screen] but don’t get.”

Prather says that when choosing films to screen, he hopes to offer fans a diverse experience and he always looks for the best. When Wolves presented itself, Prather says he contacted the Embassy of Israel, which showed nothing but support.

Although the film isn’t your typical horror/thriller film, Prather says that many people who enjoy a variety of movies will enjoy Wolves.

“It’s one of those wonderful convergences of film that really does play to a large audience,” he says. “It’s not for everybody, but it comes closest to something that would appeal to a wide range of people. I think you get that with good films, whether they’re horror, comedies or documentaries.”

As to what horror films it’s similar to, Prather says it wouldn’t be fair to compare the “revenge thriller” to anything.

“I think this will be a film that people will compare other movies to.”

Big Bad Wolves screens at AFI Silver Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. The unrated film is presented in Hebrew with English subtitles. For more information, go to spookyfests.com.

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