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A series of brutal 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 religious studies teacher arrested and released due to a police blunder.Written by
Not scared of the big bad wolf. Still recommending the film!
Always a pleasure reviewing an Israeli film, especially one that can be considered as an attempt to qualify for the "horror" genre as has been defined by Hollywood for around two decades now. While avoiding any criticism towards the genre as it is known today, I can sincerely say I'm proud to have another Israeli film so well known, and being a devout Horror - that I'm very glad Israel has joined the list of countries making worthy Horror films.
Now for the film itself... I can't help but feeling disappointed, for a number of reasons: 1. The first reason would probably be irrelevant for anyone not familiar with Israel's film industry, and yet I must point out that using Lior Ashkenazi (a famous excellent actor) for the character of an irresponsible uneducated stereotypical Israeli police officer simply didn't feel right. Ashkenazi is as charismatic as he is talented, and his screen presence is undeniable. Seeing him making the stupid mistakes forced upon him by the script was almost painful.
2. Immediately relating to the previous reason, the film used one of the horrible "cheats" that have become the bane and doom of many Horror films, Slasher/Serial Killer films in particular. Due to my oath to avoid spoilers, I am unable to describe the cheat, but suffice to say you'll know it when you see it. It joins the infamous list of killer being faster then a sprinting victim, a car running out of gas / car keys falling due to stress and fear / cellphone having no signal and such unreasonable annoying causes of death, making the audience join hands together in an epic group face palm.
3. Like many other Israeli films, this one has been stained by the puzzling need to make a socio-political statement. Be it regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the gender discrimination problem (both described thoroughly in Israeli websites dealing with cinema reviews) - I personally find these to be redundant and plain stupid. This is a professional Horror film, not one about women's rights and equality or the contemporary political state. It has no room for such things, which do very little at most to serve the plot or the message (at least what the message should be).
4. While falling into line with Hollywood is good for the Israeli cinema's status, it made the film lose the "Israeli" uniqueness the fans have seen and loved for decades. The comic bits do little to return it. Israel's cinema is known for having its own rules and goals, and the past decade or so has brought us very little films still loyal to this tradition.
However, I still find some very glowing spots of light in the film, making it very worthwhile and recommended. The acting by the trio of main characters is absolutely exquisite. Each plays his role beautifully. I was especially impressed with Tzahi Grad as the mourning father and Rotem Keinan as the prime suspect. Whether it's the tone of voice, or the body language, or the looks on their faces in each scene - the acting is by far the best aspect of the film. The story, on the other hand, lacked, and lacked much. The effect of similar plots like Saw and The Tortured and such is way too obvious. That wouldn't have taken anything away from the story, had it been in anyway at all original, which it simply isn't. I personally couldn't guess the ending, but only due to too much credit given to the writers. I honestly have never expected them to use such a banal anticlimactic closure-less catharsis lacking ending.
All in all, I can't say I didn't enjoy the film. The suspense is nerve- wrecking and the acting is, as mentioned, profound. Therefore, regardless to the relatively low rate I've given it, I urge you to give it a chance. No, it won't be the best film you'll have seen this year, not even the best horror film, probably not even the best Israeli film. Yet it remains a film worth watching, showing Israel's progress towards the cinematic conventions of the 21st century.
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