Written and directed by Rasmus Merivoo, two children are left at their grandma’s house without their smartphones. Real life seems boring until they find instructions for Kratt – a magical creature who will do whatever its master says. All they need now is to buy a soul from the devil. Starring: Mari Lill, Nora Merivoo, Harri Merivoo, Elise Tekko, Roland Treima, Mari-Liis Lill, Marek Tammets and Ivo Uukkivi.
Family friendly horror is few and far between, it’s a tricky thing to pull off but while Kratt might initially seem like it’s filling that gap, this is not one for the kids. In fairness, it could have been an option, if you removed the relatively small amount of violence and language, it would become suitable for a larger age range and be an interesting change of pace. What it does however create is a mix of children’s fairy tale and satanic murder and possession, and no-one’s going to judge you for thinking that’s a strange blend of themes. You’d be right, because it’s an oddity of a film but for the most part, it does work. It has the curiosity, sense of adventure and reckless abandon of its youthful cast but adds in a huge dose of darkness. Any film where children get a taste of power, is always going to go down a bad route but Rasmus Merivoo presents that journey with a cheery disposition.
There’s a very cheeky and silly atmosphere, there’s a touch of slapstick humour thrown in, not unlike Hot Fuzz, Krampus or, for a slightly more obscure comparison, 2006’s Black Sheep. The horror can be gory but at the same time it has that comedy and light-hearted touch, and the violence is used sporadically. Visually it captures that energetic, summer holidays type feel but it adapts as time goes on. It’s a decision that comes with ups and downs, in its latter half it really embraces the darkness and chaos to its story which looks great but at the same time changes the energy to the film. It causes things to slow down and get a bit more messy, adding in a few additional threads which don’t have too much to add, rather leaving unanswered questions. It’s a shame as that good old-fashioned fairly tale vibe works well so when you add in a more modernised edge, the balance becomes more rocky.
It’s definitely an ensemble film, the kids may take the lead but it’s all one big moving piece with each character adding to the carnage as it trots along. There aren’t really any standout performances, everyone’s hitting a nicely consistent tone to the comedy, all feeding off each other’s performances. The whole thing has a great personality which in no small part comes from the cast, having that almost spoof-esque attitude gives them a lot of space to play around, not letting the film take itself too seriously.
Kratt is a family style horror, that’s not made for family viewing. It’s a strange but fun choice which turns out an adventure of cults, satanic rituals and possession, which really when you leave a bunch of YouTube obsessed kids in a small village with no phones, what else could you expect? There’s a familiar style in its light-hearted comedy and you can feel that it’s made for people to have a good time watching. There are a few unnecessary threads and it gets a little lost in its latter half, not quite able to keep up the bigger energy all the way through but it’s an entertaining take on a dark fairy tale.