Revenge is often a dish best served cold, but while rifling through collections of revenge thrillers from different countries, you definitely get the feeling that different nations have added spices and flavors. Some like their revenge with a happy ending, others like it bleak and nasty, but no matter how you swing it, the overall concept of revenge is a theme that any person can understand. We’ve seen American revenge films, Korean versions, Japanese versions – but are you ready for the Israeli interpretation of revenge?
Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, the lunatics behind Rabies, are being awarded some pretty serious acclaim for their second feature Big Bad Wolves, a revenge thriller with an Israeli twist. Is it safe? Does it play by the rules? Well, these two are responsible for creating the first Israeli horror film in Rabies, and for their second genre release, our filmmakers feel perfectly comfortable delivering double the genre insanity. Throwing caution to the wind, we get yet another unique and vivid portrayal of revenge, one specific to our Israeli talents, but we also are treated to a twisted tale that takes three characters and has them all collide in horrifying fashion. While US audiences have to wait until January 17th before they can witness what Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado have created, I was lucky enough to review the film, and let me tell you – 2014 may have just found its first “Top 10” caliber horror film. In January.
Aside from seeing Big Bad Wolves early, I had the great pleasure of interviewing both Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado while the duo were promoting their fantastic film, sitting down in New York City for a quick chat about Israeli horror. Interested in the foreign aspect of their film, we discussed the different interpretations of revenge that span the globe, what films influenced their creative minds when coming up with Big Bad Wolves, and what other fairy tales these two madmen would someday like to destroy for audiences. Hope you enjoy!
WGTC: Do you believe the theme of revenge is dealt with differently in different nations? For instance, Korea has Oldboy, America has Kill Bill…
Navot Papushado: Now you have Oldboy for America as well!
WGTC: …let’s not talk about that. [Laughs] There’s a regional essence these films have unlike the others, so I’m wondering, did you deal with revenge differently being an Israeli horror film?
Navot Papushado: No, I think you’re right. It’s all very different, the background and where you’re coming from. It was very important to us to make it obvious that all of the people, all of the characters in the film, have military backgrounds, so when they’re taking justice into their own hands, they come trained. Of course they are also “Average Joes,” maybe not the cop, but the fathers – none of them are ninjas. All of them got trained at some point or another, and that mentality follows them to their civilian lives.
Aharon Keshales: I also think that if you’re judging it East against West, a lot of the US based films or Hollywood films believe in happy endings, even in revenge films. If you see the Korean films and our take on the revenge film, you can see a grim ending. We believe that when you go for revenge, you should dig two graves from the start.
Prisoners and Big Bad Wolves have a lot of similarities when you read the plot lines, not in the films, but when you read them it’s like the same synopsis almost. Then you have one film that ends with a whistle, with a good ending. It’s a dark film, but it leaves room for hope, whereas Koreans will kill the hell out of you at the end. You’ll feel smashed to your bones when you see, like, I Saw The Devil – you’re shattered from the inside. We like these kinds of revenge films.
WGTC: Did you draw inspiration from films of this nature?
Navot Papushado: Definitely. Specifically I Saw The Devil. That was the film that ignited Big Bad Wolves in so many ways.
First of all, our favorite director of all time is Sergio Leone. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – we can both watch it over and over again, and we have this little ceremony that we do before each feature. We just sit and watch it the day before. But growing up on Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Wes Craven, Brian De Palma, all the guys from the 70s. Carpenter came along, Cronenberg, until Tarantino and The Coen brothers came – I think that sums all our influences.
It wasn’t until we saw Korean films that we realized how to be influenced but still make it your own. Oldboy is obviously influenced by Kurosawa, and directors from Japan and Asia, but it wasn’t until Korean films like Oldboy, I Saw The Devil, Memories of Murder, The Host – the Korean wave hit us. Then we were really confident about making an Israeli film that would be influence by all these US and Western influences, but still make it very Israeli, very Jewish-like in a way. The Korean wave gave us the confidence to make something that wouldn’t feel like we were trying to imitate someone.
We are very much influenced by all of those, and we’re not ashamed to be influenced. In Israel, some people accused us and said we were just “Tarantino wannabes,” and we were like, “Hell yea! We’re also Spielberg wannabes, and Hitchcock wannabes, and Scorsese wannabes – of course we want to be like them, they’re the greatest!” But it was the Korean wave that gave us the final push.