Fantasia Fest: Kratt is a dark, hilarious take on an Estonian myth

Kratt - Courtesy of Tallifornia
Kratt - Courtesy of Tallifornia /

What is a Kratt? In Estonian folklore, a Kratt is a creature not dissimilar from a golem created to fulfill tasks. The maker of the Kratt must give it a constant stream of work. When there is no more work to be done, the Kratt will wring its creator’s neck.

The film of the same name from Fantasia Fest 2021 introduces us to a pair of internet-addicted kids who get their cellphones taken away by their parents as they go on a retreat, leaving the children behind with their grandmother. In a bid to make them understand the value of hard work and life without the world wide web at their fingertips, their grandmother teaches them how to do all the chores around her home, including raking the apples, tending the chickens, and picking berries.

Mia and Kevin are not enthused by these tasks. What really piques Mia’s interest is a fable her grandma tells her about the mysterious Kratt. As a child, Grandma tried to make one herself but failed. Mia, Kevin, and their newfound friends, twins Julie and August, have more success.

Kratt – Courtesy of Tallifornia /

Kratt blends fairytale morals with some truly dark humor

What follows is a zany film that mixes fairytale elements with stark deadpan humor. The movie tries to juggle poking fun at Facebook culture, government figures, and internet addiction. While Kratt does an exceptional job on some of these, it sometimes feels like the film is too bloated for its own good. The middle portion starts to sag under the weight of all these different themes and slows down the pacing quite a bit.

Still, Kratt is an enjoyable horror-comedy anchored by a stellar performance from Mari Hill, who plays the children’s grandmother. I don’t think it’s a coincidence to say that the movie is at its strongest when it’s focusing on the family unit at its center. I probably could have done without some of the subplots, but I can understand their purpose as director and writer Rasmus Merivoo clearly wanted to explore morality through a wider lens.

At its heart, Kratt feels more like a comedy than a horror film, but it does lean heavily into the darker elements at times, especially in one particularly memorably and a shocking scene involving pizzas; I won’t say anymore here. Watching this reminded me of some of the scary films I watched as a kid, movies like The Goonies (which terrified me as a child), Gremlins, and R.L. Stine books and shows.

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