Koko-di Koko-da Movie Review
One of the weirder movies you’ll see this year, Koko-di Koko-da has a couple trapped in the woods, Groundhog Day-style, as they are repeatedly murdered in maliciously twisted ways by a sideshow artist and his two comrades.
The first minute tells you everything you need to know about this odd horror-thriller that refuses to play by the book (or any book for that matter). The first minute will also hook you and draw you into this creative experience—or make it clear that you’re better off watching something else entirely.
Written and directed by Johannes Nyholm, Koko-di Koko-da rarely plays things straight, and even when you think you know what to expect, it takes a while to fall in line with the rhythm of this offbeat Swedish tale. This unpredictability, matched with Nyholm’s creative storytelling techniques, makes the film well worth the 85-minute investment, even if it isn’t exactly the kind of horror flick you’re likely to revisit over and over again.
Neither protagonist is particularly likable, but that’s sort of the point: three years after the tragic death of their daughter, Elin and Tobias’ relationship is at a breaking point—or perhaps broken beyond repair. They’re dead inside, which makes the repeated attacks upon their bodies almost superfluous. And yet, Nyholm manages to steer his characters to the light, somehow making you cheer for the survival of this unlikely pair.
Equally impressive is the second channel Nyholm uses to express the underlying theme of the movie, one of guilt, trauma, blame, and letting go. The animated segments of the movie, as simple as they are, are mesmerizing—on their own, they’d make a fine animated short. The fact that Nyholm somehow manages to intertwine a quasi-violent horror film with something so beautiful (yet sad) is impressive.
The movie’s strength is also its biggest weakness: the ending, which works so perfectly to wrap up the thematic, conceptual aspects of the story Nyholm set out to tell, diminishes the effect of his frightening villains. Nyholm closes out the story well, and yet it doesn’t close in a satisfying way.
But that’s yet another reason that makes Koko-di Koko-da so weird: it all makes sense even when it doesn’t.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.