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Film / Big Bad Wolves

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Big Bad Wolves (original title Mi Mefakhed mehaZe'ev haRa‘Hebrew ) is 2013 Israeli thriller film. A series of brutal child murders puts the lives of three men on a collision course: The father of the latest victim now out for revenge, a vigilante police detective operating outside the boundaries of law, and the main suspect in the killings—a Tanakh teacher arrested and released due to a police blunder.


This film contains the following tropes:

  • Anachronism Stew: Not entirely unrealistic ones, but they’re still somewhat jarring:
    • Dror’s classroom has a blackboard, while most classrooms in Israel when the movie was created had whiteboards.
    • Dror himself has a coat with leather elbows and looks all in all like a stereotypical teacher Two Decades Behind.
    • Gidi’s ringtone sounds like that of a mobile phone from the The 2000s, despite it being a smartphone.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Dror dies without revealing where Micki’s daughter is (or for that matter where the heads of his previous victims were) and the cops don’t find the hidden room she’s being kept in, but she’s clearly still breathing, and Dror is dead.
  • Bound and Gagged: Gidi keeps Dror bound to a chair and gagged, and later handcuffs Micki to a water pipe and gags him as well when he starts hesitating.
  • Break Them by Talking: Dror tries this on Micki and Gidi, telling them he’s a father himself. It works on Micki, who starts doubting he’s the killer, but not on Gidi, who just says, ‘You’re good.’
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The drugged cake that Gidi baked to drug Dror. His father eats a slice when Gidi is away, digging up his daughter’s head from the fake location Dror gave him, allowing Micki to escape.
    • One of the nails out of the box Gidi drops. Micki hides it under his shoe, waiting for an opportune moment; when Yoram eats a slice of the drugged cake and falls asleep, he uses Gidi’s absence to escape.
    • The discarded bicycle outside of Gidi’s house. When Micki finally escapes, he uses it to run off and get help.
    • The mobile phone Micki gives his daughter allows her mother to realise she was kidnapped when she won’t answer.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Arab on the horse, who appears when Gidi goes out to smoke a joint, and later lends his phone to Micki when he manages to escape.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Happens to Dror twice. The first is just a rough beating, the other emulates the killer’s MO, based on the police report: feeding the girls a cake with sleeping pills and violating their every orifice when they’re out (this part was omitted in the version done to Dror), waiting till they wake up to breaking all the girls’ fingers and tearing all of their toenails out (and waiting till they wake up again if they pass out again), and finally decapitating them with a rusty saw.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Micki accuses Dror of keeping the toenails of the girls he allegedly kills in a jar on the fridge.
  • Cultural Translation: Some of the Shout Outs that wouldn’t make sense to non-Israelis were adapted in the English translations.
  • Da Chief: Tsvika, the police commissioner, chews Micki and Shauli out and demotes Micki for getting caught roughing up a suspect.
  • Defector from Decadence: Micki starts hesitating when Dror talks to him alone, and tries to stop Gidi from further inflicting his Cold-Blooded Torture on him.
  • Defiant to the End: Dror, in a rare villainous example.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The real estate agent and Yoram make disparaging comments about living in a house surrounded by Arab communities.
  • Evil All Along: Dror was the killer after all.
  • Foreshadowing: The camera pointedly shows Dror hanging his bicycle up on a hook in his house. In the end, it’s revealed that he keeps his victims in a hidden room behind the bicycle.
  • Freudian Threat: Yoram threatens to blow-torch Dror’s crotch after asking Gidi if he’d like a hot dog.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Someone records Dror’s interrogation and uploads it to YouTube, further ruining the police’s already poor name and getting Micki demoted.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Micki asks Gidi who should be the good cop and bad cop. Gidi says that there’s no room for good cops.
  • Gratuitous English: The abandoned house in the beginning has a graffito reading ‘Ritalin’ on it.
  • Henpecked Husband: Yoram is henpecked by his wife, Malka. She nags him about his medication, forced him to become vegetarian and prohibits him from smoking.
  • Informed Attribute: People keep referring to Dror as short. Although the actor is scrawny and nonthreatening, he’s about as tall as the rest of the cast.
  • Ironic Name: Dror, whose name literally means ‘freedom’, spends most of his time on screen Bound and Gagged.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Rami and Micki try to do to Dror to get information about the girl out of him. It fails. Gidi tries to do the same, far more cruelly, more intent on killing him than bringing him to trial.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Yoram’s turmoil about Gidi’s actions disappear rather quickly as he decides to join in.
  • Lost in Translation:
    • The Shout Outs that didn’t get a Cultural Translation wound up as this instead.
    • Gidi’s mother’s name, Malka, literally means ‘queen’ (like ‘Regina’); when Yoram answers the phone, he says, ‘Hello to the queen!’ This was translated as, ‘Hello, Malka!’
  • Ludd Was Right: Micki implies this to defend himself when he’s interpreted as saying Arabs are technologically inept.
  • Mistaken for Racist: Micki asks the Arab on the horse, ‘You don’t happen to have a mobile on you by any chance, do you?’ The question’s negative hypothetical phrasing is interpreted at first as rudeness, assuming Arabs are technologically inept.
  • My Beloved Smother: Gidi’s mother is a henpecking wife and a smothering mother. She ignores Gidi’s protests and forces Yoram to visit him with a bowl of soup when Gidi claims to be sick.
  • My Greatest Failure: Gidi’s is cheating on his wife with his secretary instead of picking up his daughter, letting her get caught by the killer.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: How heroic exactly he is is subject to debate, but Gidi killing Dror means there’s no way to know where Micki’s daughter is.
  • Papa Wolf: Gidi is only doing this because he suspects Dror killed his daughter.
  • Pet the Dog: Gidi treats an Arab man who rides past his porch with respect, addressing him in Arabic and even handing him the cigarette he just rolled, showing that he’s a decent man when his daughter’s killer isn’t involved.
  • Police Brutality: Micki does this for the first time when he ‘interrogates’ Dror. Unfortunately for him, someone happened to be video taping it, and he was fired.
  • Primal Fear: Yoram tells Gidi that fear of fire is instinctive in all animals, and is thus a useful interrogation technique.
  • Old Soldier: Yoram, who has obviously seen some shit, is displeased with how Gidi is unfamiliar with the interrogation techniques he learned in the army.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Gidi is on one because his daughter was killed and he suspects Dror.
  • Russian Roulette: Micki plays this on Dror in an attempt to get him to talk, adding a bullet to the revolver after each trigger pull. It’s unclear whether he’s rigging the game or not.
  • Sadistic Choice: Gidi tells Dror he can either die the same way the girls did at the hands of the killer, or tell him where the head is and die quickly by gunshot.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Gidi uses the somewhat highbrow (in Hebrew) loanword ‘modifications’; when Micki is confused, Gidi says, ‘Changes.’
  • Slasher Smile: Subverted. Dror’s expression moments before he dies is something resembling very ambiguously a smile. Only the final shot confirms it was indeed him all along.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: ‘My Love Will Get You Home’, the song used in the trailer, has a melody that suits the atmosphere of the film very well, but lyrics that ring exceptionally ironic with regards to the characters.
  • Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee: After Micki argues that the video won’t go away, and asks Tsvika to let him keep trying to prove it was Dror to fight it, Tsvika tells Micki he’s a civilian now, and civilians can do as they please... so long as they don’t get caught.
  • Tap on the Head: Gidi knocks Dror and Micki out cold with a shovel-blow to the back of the head.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Tsvika first sends Micki to Traffic when the first interrogation technique used on Dror fails and the girl dies, then temporarily fires him until the public forgets about the incident. A non-police example happens to Dror after the video of his interrogation goes viral and too many parents and students protest.
  • Wham Line: When Micki calls his police chief and instead finds himself talking to his wife, panicking because their daughter has gone missing: ‘She hasn’t answered her phone since you picked her up from ballet yesterday!’
  • Wham Shot: The very last shot shows the room Micki’s daughter is hidden in.
  • When I Was Your Age...: Malka talks about how people of Gidi’s generation divorce way too easily.