FANTASIA FEST 2021: ‘Kratt’ Is a Diabolic Great Time

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Kratt

Have you ever found yourself without the use of technology during blackouts? How did our ancestors find entertainment without the dumb audiovisual distractions provided by mobile phones? It probably is a scary thought for the younger generations. Some of them might even be capable of summoning dark demons just to avoid boredom. At least that’s the case of the two bratty young main characters of Rasmus Merivoo’s wonderful Kratt.

The summer of Mia (Nora Merivoo) and Kevin (Harri Merivoo) is ruined. Since their parents are going to an ayahuasca spiritual retirement, they are dropped off with grandma (Mari Lill) at her farm in the Estonian countryside. Unfortunately, father took their smartphones, and there’s not much to do except for work. These little brats do nothing but complain about their boredom and their farming tasks; Mia is especially narcissistic as she’s desperate to upload YouTube videos to her precious subscribers. 

After exploring around with their new friends and neighbors, August (Roland Treima) and Juuli (Elise Tekko), Mia and Kevin get their hands on a book that will help them bring to life a Kratt—a demonic servant-like spirit who will do any work you ask him. Why not? I mean, there’s nothing else to do. So to call the demon, they go to the local nursery to steal some blood that, unbeknownst to them, belongs to the village’s Governor (Ivo Uukkivi). And even though their grandmother realizes what they are doing, it’s too late, and an accident turns her into the Kratt.

Brought to life by a sublime deadpan performance by Mari Lill, the Kratt soon becomes a laugh-out-loud character. It does everything Mia commands: cook hundreds of pancakes, get a pool for the garden,  and liberate the chickens from the farm. And whenever a task is done, the Kratt immediately barks “Give me work!” in the funniest of manners. But, what happens when a Kratt is not given work? That’s when things get disturbing.

Kratt is a blast. It evokes the spirit of classic summer coming-of-age films and combines it with absurdity, highly effective humor, gore, and a well-balanced horror concept. There’s also both political and social commentary that lands through hilarious scenes and performances. Involved in the plot is a group of activists led by Lembit (Paul Purga), a huge Andre-the-Giant-like man who uses singing and the power of Facebook to assemble his activist mobs to protest against deforestation. The Governor tries to appease them but is tricked into a political powerplay that catches him by surprise. Although these political ideas tend to get lost in the carnage, they work thanks to the cartoonish nature of the characters. 

It’s impressive how much fun Rasmus Merivoo pulls out of an obscure Estonian mythological creature. It serves disturbing and comedic purposes but also becomes a metaphor for modern technology. The Kratt is basically a demonic incarnation of an AI, trying to serve humans as literally as possible, which eventually becomes dangerous for everyone. And that’s the way technology is trending too. This is all depicted through irreverent occurrences and sweet character development: seeing their grandmother turned into a monster starts to take its emotional toll on Mia and Kevin. Kratt works thanks to this tricky balance between light and dark elements.

The film has more than a handful of insane moments delivered through black, gross, or deadpan humor. The performances are great—everyone understands the colorful nature of their characters and maximizes their screen time no matter the size of their role. Nora and Harri Merivoo (children of director Rasmus) are tremendous; keep an eye on Nora, who has heaps of natural confidence and clearly a great future. Roland Treima and Elise Tekko are particularly funny in the joke delivery; their presence would always bring a big smile to my face. Big props to Ivo Uukkivi as the distraught Governor and Jan Uuspõld, who hits one home run after another in his role as the hilarious pastor who comes to the aid of the kids.

Kratt is a lively fairy tale that delivers adventure and morality through a masterful blend of absurdity, heart, and horror. It has confidence, silliness, creativity, vision, and infectious energy that will provide for one heck of a time. I don’t say this often, but this is a movie I wish I could’ve seen with a crowd: it’s a party.

Kratt had its North American premiere at the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival.

Kratt
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Kratt is a lively fairy tale that delivers adventure and morality through a masterful blend of absurdity, heart, and horror. It has confidence, silliness, creativity, vision, and infectious energy that will provide for one heck of a time. I don’t say this often, but this is a movie I wish I could’ve seen with a crowd: it’s a party.