By Michael Dequina | February 22, 2002

To ease his wife’s (Veronika Zilková) grief over their inability to conceive a child, a man (Jan Hartl) fashions a faux infant out of a tree stump. The best intentions yield the worst results when the wife’s love and attention to their “son” to life, and before long he’s literally eating them out of house and home–and a few neighbors as well. Celebrated Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer’s film, inspired by an old folk tale, is an amusingly subversive experience at turns creepy and hilarious; his employment of stop motion animation to bring Otik to life–as well as the nether regions of a lecherous old man (it has to be seen to be believed)–is wildly creative. Clocking in past the two hour mark, the film does drag, particularly toward the end as the conclusion becomes increasingly obvious and too slow to arrive. For the most part, though, getting there is a wild and fascinating ride.

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