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Koko-di Koko-da

By Anthony Ray Bench | November 3, 2020

NEW TO VOD AND VIRTUAL THEATERS! Directed by Johannes Nyholm, Koko-di Koko-da is one of those movies with a ton of potential, but it’s ultimately mired down by repetition and a story that is less interested in being coherent and more concerned with being visually different for the sake of being different.

The film tells the story of a couple torn apart by the tragic passing of their daughter. Three years on, to remember her and save their marriage, Tobias (Leif Edlund) and Elin (Ylva Gallon) decide to go on a camping trip in the rain-drenched woods. But then strange things begin to happen. Tormented by a group of oddballs led by a man wearing a boater hat, the couple starts a cycle of waking to different variations of the same nightmare.

The first scene of the movie features this frightful trio. Aside from the aforementioned leader, Mog (Peter Belli), there’s Cherry (Brandy Litmanen), who is a tall woman with a severe case of Queen Amidala hair, and a silent but intimidating brute, Sampo (Morad Baloo Khatchadorian). They travel with a vicious dog. Their singing and dancing seriously gave me the heebie-jeebies. I honestly believed I was witnessing the premiere of the next horror icons right before my eyes.

Then I realized they were overstaying their welcome. Koko-di Koko-da begins to show them way too much, so they lose their mystique and unsettling nature. The characters I thought I’d be having nightmares about soon lost their zest and became borderline annoying.

“…Tobias and Elin decide to go on a camping trip in the rain-drenched woods. But then strange things begin to happen.”

I’m trying my best not to share any spoilers here, but much of the movie revolves around the same series of events happening a little differently every time. The main characters become a little more aware each time they start trying to escape their horrible predicament. This plot device can be well-executed, such as in Edge of TomorrowGroundhog Day, or the more recent Happy Death Day. But here, the concept is overdone and played out about midway in.

Also, one of the character’s arcs makes them completely unlikable. The leads scream and make obnoxious noises when, given the situation, it’d be best to be as subtle as possible. If someone told me to keep it down and they had a terrified look on their face, I wouldn’t shout “What is it? What’s wrong?” a hundred times, I’d just kind of go along with it and assume because it’s dark and we’re in the woods, something is trying to kill us.

However, Koko-di Koko-da is a gorgeous film with a dreamlike/nightmarish quality to most of its shots. There are also shadow puppet animated sequences that look unique and unlike anything I’ve seen before. I’d call Koko-di Koko-da a very stylish film with little substance and scares that become way too repetitive to be effective. To top it all off, the ending is unsatisfying and abrupt.

I don’t think this is a film I can recommend to a normal audience, though it is definitely for fans of trippy and vague movies where you are forced into drawing your own conclusions. I feel like Koko-di Koko-da could have worked better as a short, as we’d see less of the terrifying trio, and in this case, less is definitely better.

Koko-di Koko-da screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and Fantastic Fest.

Koko-Di Koko-Da (2019)

Directed and Written: Johannes Nyholm

Starring: Leif Edlund, Ylva Gallon, Katarina Jakobson, Peter Belli, etc.

Movie score: 6.5/10

Koko-Di Koko-Da Image

"…a gorgeous film with a dreamlike/nightmarish quality to most of its shots."

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