One of the great things about film festivals like Fantasia is that you get to see movies from all over the world. For example, the first Fantasia film I reviewed came from Argentina, another one I plan on checking out comes from South Africa, and the movie I’m reviewing here, Kratt, comes from Estonia. I had never seen an Estonian film before this one, so it was cool getting to check this country off my world cinema list.
Kratt was directed by Rasmus Merivoo, and it stars Mari Lill, Nora Merivoo, Harri Merivoo, Elise Tekko, and Roland Treima. It’s a horror-comedy about two young kids from the city who spend some time at their grandmother’s rural house while their parents go away on vacation. During their stay there, they struggle with the lack of technology in the village, and they especially miss the internet.
On top of that, their grandmother has them do chores like chopping wood, cutting grass, and feeding chickens and they find the work unbearable. They desperately want out of it, so when they hear a story about a demonic entity known as the Kratt, they get an idea. The Kratt is supposed to do whatever work you give it, so the kids reason that if they summon this creature, they won’t have to do any of those yucky chores.
However, things don’t go exactly as planned. Right from the beginning, their scheme has some pretty horrific consequences, so even though the Kratt does all the work they don’t want to do, they eventually realize that they have to get rid of it. Unfortunately, though, sending this demon back to hell ends up being a bit harder than the kids expected.
The premise of kids summoning a demon because they don’t want to do their chores is pretty great, and I’d say that on the whole, Kratt basically lived up to my expectations. For starters, the main characters are all pretty likable, and in particular, I really liked the grandmother. She’s the kind of nice old lady that anybody would want as their own grandmother, so it was no trouble at all enjoying the film whenever she was on screen.
In contrast, the kids are both spoiled little brats. They have no work ethic, and for a large portion of the movie, they don’t display any particularly virtuous or commendable qualities. But despite all that, the film somehow managed to make me like them anyway. I found myself rooting for them and genuinely caring about their wellbeing, so along with their grandmother, they gave the story a solid emotional foundation that kept my interest the whole way through.
Even the side characters in Kratt are decent enough. They don’t really add anything to the story, but they don’t detract from it either. For the most part, they just play their roles and help move the narrative forward, so even though I didn’t care nearly as much about them as I did the main trio, I didn’t mind seeing them on screen.
Next, let’s move on to the comedy. This element of the film is somewhat of a mixed bag, but on the whole, it works pretty well. It had me chuckling pretty consistently from start to finish, so the movie is genuinely funny. However, there were also a lot of jokes that just didn’t land with me, and some of them even had me rolling my eyes at how unfunny I found them.
That being said, I think a lot of my issues with the humor are probably due more to the language barrier than anything else. Jokes and gags that are meant to be delivered orally just don’t have the same impact when you read them as subtitles, so I suspect that this film is a lot funnier if you know Estonian. But I don’t know Estonian, so I can only tell you how the comedy hit me. And like I said, Kratt is funny, but it’s not quite the side-splitting romp that the hilarious premise might lead you to expect.
Last but not least, let’s talk about the horror. This movie leans much more heavily towards the comedy side, but there is some legit horror in it too. Most notably, the Kratt is a formidable demonic foe, and some of the things it does to its victims are utterly gruesome. The film doesn’t show the creature’s evil deeds in all their gory glory (although it does have its moments), but just knowing how it disposes of several of its victims is more than enough.
On top of that, the narrative also takes some really dark turns at a couple of points. At least one character that you really care about gets a very raw deal, and the movie even manages to make you feel for a few of the people you don’t form particularly strong attachments to. Granted, it’s not so dark that it’ll put a damper on the rest of your day, but at the moment, it hits hard enough to make you notice.
So all in all, I’d say that Kratt is a fun horror-comedy that’s worth a watch, but it’s not a must-see. If you get a chance to watch it, I’d definitely recommend checking it out, but don’t twist yourself in too many knots trying to catch a screening of it. Luckily, though, you won’t have to go too far out of your way to see it. The film is playing on-demand at the Fantasia International Film Festival, so if you want to give this one a shot, you can do so at your own convenience.