Saturday, February 22, 2014


LITTLE OTIK (2000) (UR) Dir. Jan Svankmeyer
132 mins.

Little Otik is a story from the Czech Republic about a barren couple who adopt a strange tree root as a surrogate child. Their delusional love for it seems to give it life. As Otik grows, he begins devouring the people in the apartments around the couple, and his appetite increases. This film draws much inspiration from genre classics The Little Shop of Horrors, It's Alive and Eraserhead. It's a very streamlined Jan Svankmeyer film, if that's possible; it is much more accessible than his more occult works. This is both negative and positive.
I did not enjoy it as much at first, simply because of the seemingly "mainstream" quality of this compared to movies like Alice and Conspirators of Pleasure. I however forgave this because this film is a great example of modern folklore, because of Jan's fabulous stop-motion animation and exploitation of taboos. The story is simple and predictable, however subplots and scenes are not. This would serve as a good introduction to Jan's oeuvre. Maybe I'm fucked, but I would regard most of Jan's work to make great, if not utterly terrifying, children's films. They convey a sense of wonder and creativity that really spark the imagination (Yes, these are fucked up movies, but I grew up watching Return to Oz and The Watcher in the Woods. As long as your kid isn't curbstomping neighborhood animals, I think they'll be fine).
Little Otik is very well filmed (expect nothing less from this man), surreal (ditto) and almost has a Peter Jackson feel to its stock and editing. It isn't a perfect film, but many uncomfortable subjects are addressed directly but serve as positive cautionary tales in this stark fairytale. 6/10
Watch the trailer:


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