God knows, I love me some independent and foreign films.
Well, to quote my good friend Forrest Gump, they’re “like a box of chocolates . . . you never know what you’re going to get.”
With Hollywood films, you can pretty much predict the plotline with one lobe tied behind your back. Not so with an independent and/or foreign film!
For example, last night I watched one of the most disturbing and affective (if not Effective) pieces of film I’ve seen in a long time. It was a Czech film called “Little Otik”, which I stumbled across on IFC. Let’s play “Name that Genre” with the movie, shall we?
It starts out by introducing us to a married couple struggling with infertility.
**Drama about the human condition? Nope.**
The husband, digging up a tree stump, sees that it resembles a baby, and presents it to his wife to cheer her up.
**A love story about a couple overcoming hardships and disappointments? Oh, no. **
The wife pounces on this tree stump, and immediately dresses it and bathes it (keeping its little head above water), powders and diapers it. When the husband tries to show her that it’s only wood, she pretty much loses her mind. The woman decides to fake her own pregnancy, so that in nine months, she can introduce the baby as her own; the husband allows it, afraid to “out” his crazy wife, and hoping that she’ll recover.
** A cautionary tale of a descent into madness? Nuh uh.**
Magically, after the woman goes through this psychosomatic pregnancy, complete with morning sickness, weird cravings (pickles and whipped cream? Ew!) and a painful “labor”, the baby/stump comes to life . . . in a creepy Bjork-like stop animation way.
**A fairy tale about how magic can happen if you wish hard enough, a la Pinocchio? I wish. **
Then the stump/baby, whom they name Otik, eats the family cat, and you start to realize where the movie is actually going.
**It IS a fairy tale, but in the really f**-ed up “Grimms Brothers” way. Oh, crap. **
Eventually, Otik grows to six feet tall and nearly as wide, and eats a Postman, a Social Worker, a Pedophile and his own mother and father. There is a happy ending (an old woman splits his stomach open with a hoe, and everyone comes out alive) as dictated by the foreshadowing of a little girl’s book, but they don’t show that part. You just walk away from the movie all creeped out.
But in a good way.
It was mesmerizing. Repellant, but mesmerizing. I think it’s one of those movies like “Freeway” that just gets under your skin, and eventually you HAVE to see it again.