Little Otik review by The Grim Ringler

Made by surrealist Jan Svankmajer, Little Otik, were you to classify it, would be considered a dark, adult folk tale. Based on an old Czech myth, Little Otik is the story of a young couple desperate but unable to have children. Both are infertile. The husband has begun seeing babies everywhere, as if they are there to be, literally, pulled from the seas, and the wife’s own psyche is quickly deteriorating under the pressure of not being able to have a child. So the husband, wanting to do something to ease his wife’s pain, and thinking that he can give her a gift that will lighten her spirits and get things back to normal, creates a wooden baby from the stump of a tree, not realizing the trouble it will cause them both in the end. The wife is ecstatic to have the faux baby but convinces herself that it is a real child and starts to treat it as such. The husband tries again and again to prove this as untrue but whenever he dares to do this the wife flies into hysterics and the husband gives up, time after time. The trouble starts when the wife, wanting to spend all her time with the child – the husband, aware how it will look if his wife is carting around a wooden stump baby, convinces her to leave the child at their weekend home – decides she will become pregnant and give birth to it. She hatches a plan that will have her getting more and more pregnant as the months pass, wearing a pillow over her belly that gets progressively bigger, until she is able to ‘give birth’. The husband is horrified by the thought of this but, again, acquiesces and allows his wife to do as she will rather than fight her. When the wife finally gives birth though, several months early, it is to the husband’s horror that he finds that the little child he has roughly carved from a tree stump has gained life, and, while still a stump baby, is a living being. What the couple soon comes to find unfortunately is that their little baby boy has a taste for flesh and blood, and as its body grows, so does its appetite, and pretty soon the bodies start to pile up. Can the husband finally put an end to this nightmare and stop Little Otik before it becomes, like the tale it is based up, a great giant that gobbles up everything it can get its branches on?

Beyond that, what the hell do I need to say? This is as weird a movie as I have seen in quite a while. Picture a giant tree baby going on a rampage and that’s an idea where the story is going. Well acted, wonderfully shot, and beautifully realized, this is a surreal tale asking us how badly we want something, and if the cost is worth the getting. To the mother, it is. She wanted a child at any cost, and in the end she got it, and as Otik begins devouring their neighbors, she is still willing to hide and protect him, while the father, more horrified than anything else, wants to put an end to the monster. There is a sad note too as Otik is the child of these people, whether they wanted it or not, and though they take care of him, they never give him a chance to really survive under their care. It’s only when a young girl, desperate to have her own child, adopts him and accepts what he is, that he begins to really flourish. Otik, like any baby, can only do what it is allowed to do and what it knows to do, and is only a monster because it was never meant to be human, and acts as something of its ilk would.

And lest you think this a dark, dreary movie full of sadness, the film has a very strong sense of the absurd and of humor, and it’s these things that make the film so much fun to watch, despite how weird or gross things get.

My big complaint is that the film is longer than it needs to be, and feels it. It drags and grinds through the middle and by the mid-way point you can figure out where the story is going. It’s interesting to see how the end is realized, but it’s still the ending you saw coming.

If you can find it, and are a lover of the weird, I can’t recommend this film more. I liked it, but didn’t love it, but am very glad I saw it. It’s like nothing I could have guessed, and has its own weird feel. I liked this better watching it in a group than I might have watching it alone, but if the right people find this movie, it will easily become one of their favorite films and one they brag about to all their nerdy friends. Definitely worth tracking down.


7 out of 10 Jackasses
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