FANTASIA FEST 2021 REVIEW! A kratt, stemming from Estonian folklore, is a creature formed from old objects laying about the house, that when awoken by three drops of blood sacrificed to the devil, does the bidding of its master. With its ability to fly, it can do just about anything, but be warned, if a kratt is not constantly working, it will turn on and kill its master. This creature is at the heart of the family-centric horror-comedy Kratt, written and directed by Rasmus Merivoo.
The movie begins with Mia (Nora Merivoo) and Kevin (Harri Merivoo) being dropped off at their Grandma’s place as their parents head out on a retreat of sorts. Grandma (Mari Lill) takes their phones away and has them doing chores around her little farm. While the kids are helpful, this isn’t exactly their idea of a fun time, though their new friends Juuli (Elise Tekko) and August (Roland Treima) ease the dullness a bit.
Things take a turn towards horror after the children get their hands on a spellbook and bring a kratt to life. At first, they use it to get various jobs done around the farm, but things soon spiral out of control. This coincides with several activists attempting to protect the sacred forest, much to the constant chagrin of the Governor (Ivo Uukkivi). But as the kratt wreaks havoc, everyone finds themselves in peril.
“…the children get their hands on a spellbook and…the kratt wreaks havoc…”
Kratt is patently absurd in just about every way imaginable. The jokes are often very over-the-top and quite slapstick in nature. While this does lessen the horrific implications of the kratt’s existence and its endgame, this irreverent tone also means the film is anything but dull. There’s also an amusing line or ridiculous situation just around the corner, so even when one joke falls flat, there is one right behind it that will tickle one’s fancy.
Plus, Merivoo wrote characters that are easy to root for, so the stakes are felt throughout. It helps that the cast is pretty good. All the child actors feel like real kids and believably react to the horror. Nora Merivoo perfectly plays a scene where Mia breaks down crying. Uukkivi plays his role as big as possible, with his final moments on screen being especially humorous.
But not all is grand with Kratt. Several odd editing decisions make some scenes hard to follow. Early on, when Mia and Kevin ask to go to the library, there’s a zoom in on Grandma’s face where she turns and does nothing. It is a pointless shot, and while it lasts only a few seconds, the film is well over 90-minutes, and trimming such fat would help considerably with the pacing. See, it is not the only scene like that. For example, Mia, Kevin, and a priest (preacher? Pastor? What is the difference exactly?) prepare to pray. Kevin sits down at the table, then there’s a shot of the pastor, then of Mia, who is just waiting, maybe? She does not sit down until the next shot, when the preacher does as well. Again, it might be a little thing, but there are several sequences throughout that need to be tightened up in such a matter, causing many scenes to feel a bit too long.
Even still, Kratt is an enjoyable and crazy romp that proves a fine entry point for children to experience the fun frights that comprise horror. Most of the jokes land and the story is unique, which means knowing where it is going is fun to try and figure out. So, while it is not perfect, it is amusing and engaging.
Kratt screened at the 2021 Fantasia Festival.
"…a fine entry point for children to experience the fun frights that comprise horror."