Cleaning out the queues: #07 of 20
Try to imagine Pinocchio mixed with Little Shop of Horrors. Or Eraserhead with Lars & the Real Girl. Not Or. And. But it's not fair to Little Otik to compare it to other movies, because it is so particular to the fantastically nightmarish vision of Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer that it is a singular, sometimes mesmerizing work of genius.
Little Otik (a.k.a. Greedy Guts or Otesánek) is an extremely weird & unsettling modern fairy tale about a desperate couple who end up with a horrifying twig monster for a baby. Although it's amusingly surreal from the first few minutes, Svankmajer nevertheless manages to contain his bizarre story within a relatable, real-ish context that is comically heightened but never gets out-of-hand. It's a preposterous balancing act, but he pulls it off. Fans of Svankmajer's brilliant trademark stop-motion animation get a feast in the 2nd half as baby Otesanek grows more and more monstrous. It's one of the best movie creatures, made especially creepy by Svankmajer's twitching style.
Little Otik isn't perfect. It's a little too long. Some may find the style of humor a little too arch, and there are several uncomfortable scenes involving an elderly child predator that go a bit too far. Svankmajer also has a habit of repetitively hitting certain obsessions of his with relentless regularity — here it's close-ups of mouths and gooey foods — but his distinctively unsettling vision is unmistakable and miraculously works here in the service of a coherent feature-length narrative.
I'll post reviews for all the movies on this blog, and live-tweet most viewings here: