Fantasia Festival presents Kratt, book tickets here.
Deep in the pages of Estonian legend, you will find a creature named Kratt. This mythological beast is subservient to the master who creates it out of household items and three drops of blood. And as it comes to life, it seeks nothing but work, as the devil within demands the master’s attention. However, once the work drys up, the Kratt will have no option but to seek its own entertainment, killing its master before finding another. For, the Kratt thrives on attention, its work a mere veil for the evil that lies within.
Now, just for a moment, imagine a Kratt being brought to life by two children (Nora and Harri Merivoo), both bored during a summer holiday without the tech they rely on. Furthermore, imagine what would happen if the children’s sweet and innocent grandmother (Mari Lill) became the deadly Kratt. Of course, chaos would ensue, and that is precisely what Rasmus Merivoo’s delightfully bonkers movie offers us.
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In mixing classic B-Movie horror with a fascinating if slightly erratic discussion on artificial intelligence and tech, Merivoo’s horror fantasy is bathed in creativity. Its story of subservience, tech and community politics wrapped in a bow of delightfully dark comedy. And while it may, at times, try too hard to hold its narrative threads together, a series of excellent performances ensure it never loses pace. Here, we find fairytales, horror and fantasy mashed up into a unique concoction that straddles young adult horror, satire and gore. Its comedy, verging on the Monty Pythonesque as a local priest uses drones to track the elderly. While a politician slowly falls into insanity as he desperately seeks to compete with the towns love of Facebook.
For some, this darkly delicious humour may leave them cold. However, for me, Kratt’s satire is not only bonkers but very nearly brilliant. It is, therefore, a pity that Kratt’s core messages on tech and A.I. never quite find the dedicated voice they deserve. Merivoo seeks to link the mythology of the Kratt with our current reliance on tech and artificial intelligence. Here, he aims to connect Kratt’s horror to the rise of the machines in our pockets that answer our every call. And while occasionally striking gold in this mission. For example, a brilliant scene showing child workers in the developing world powering the A.I. in our phones. The overarching dissection of our tech-driven world often feels lost in an ocean of competing ideas.
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Ultimately much of the success of Kratt will depend on the expectations of the individual viewer. In turn, those expecting a light horror-comedy or monster gorefest are bound to walk away slightly disappointed. However, for those looking for something distinctly different, creative and unique, Kratt may find a dedicated audience and even cult status. Kratt is a layered, if erratic dissection of our modern world that buzzes with energy, satire and humour. And as the A.I. in our pockets becomes ever more powerful, demanding our attention every minute of the day, who knows when the Kratt in our gadgets may turn on its master.