This movie is a trip, man. Fuck.

This movie is a trip, man. Fuck.

Little Otik is Czech film directed by Jan Švankmajer inspired by a Czech fairy tale, Otesánek, written by Karel Jaromír Erben. It’s the story of a couple who are unable to have a child. One day the husband digs up a tree stump that strangely resembles a baby and brings it home. The couple then treat the wooden stump like a real child. Eventually the stump actually comes to life, but now it needs to be fed. The couple now finds themselves at the mercy of this wooden baby with an insatiable appetite and who eventually begins to eat people.

The movie takes this story and mostly plays it out as straight as it can with real world logic. The perspective of the world that we get is really defined though by a girl who lives in the same building as the couple. She knows a little too much about sex for her age and is also very interested in the prospect of having another child in the building. Most bizarre is when she starts reading the Otesánek story itself, realizing that it matches up with her reality.

The film uses close ups, often of mouths, to help establish its bizarre unsettling atmosphere. There’s a sexual tension to moments where there should be none of that, and it’s all in the direction. It all fits with the worldview of a child who’s aware of sex, but doesn’t quite understand it. The couple themselves have an unhealthy obsession with having a child; they have an appropriate level of insanity for a couple who starts to raise a tree stump as their own child.

Švankmajer uses a lot of stop motion in his films, and the design and animation of Otik is frankly incredible. Otik’s “father” carves the stump into a baby and gives it to his wife to try and make her feel better, but she takes to it too well. She immediately starts treating it like a real child, and he quickly regrets his decision. She concocts a plan to pretend to be pregnant and then “give birth” to Otik, so that no one gets suspicious of them suddenly having a baby at home. It caps off with an amazing scene of the husband returning to the cabin where she’s hiding while she “gives birth” to Otik, only to find his wife with a motherly glow to her as the now living stump creature suckles on her tit.

This movie isn’t really like anything else I’ve watched. It’s kind of like a cross between Pinocchio and Little Shop of Horrors, but there are so many other weird details to it. It’s a great film and I highly recommend it.