Koko-di Koko-da Blu-ray Review

I remember it well: it was mid-March, and there was a suggestion that this Coronavirus thing might actually be quite serious. Or that’s how long it took to reach my naïve and slow-moving mind anyway.

Little did I realise that this would be the last time I visited the cinema, any cinema, for five months and counting.

If I had known, I might have felt even more horrified and disoriented leaving the screening room than I already did, such was the impression left by Johannes Nyholm’s Koko-di Koko-da, out on digital and home media release this week.

The film opens with Swedish couple Tobias (Leif Edlund) and Elin (Ylva Gallon) on a family vacation in Denmark. They are celebrating their daughter’s eighth birthday and have bought her a music box as a gift. The music box is decorated with a countryside scene, featuring three odd-looking characters.

Tragedy strikes, the birthday gift is never given, and we then cut to three years later when Tobias and Elin find themselves on a camping trip, trying to salvage their fraying marriage.

On the trip, they break all the rules of surviving a horror movie and venture deep into some dark, foreboding woods where, unsurprisingly, things start to go wrong. Or, rather, more wrong than they already are.

Early the following morning, Tobias and Elin are set upon by three bizarre, grotesque-looking characters who resemble those on their daughter’s music box.

The three characters submit the couple to sadistic torture, at the end of which Tobias wakes up and finds the events of the night are starting all over again as if nothing ever happened. More torture ensues, over and over, and the couple vary and double their efforts to escape this brutal time loop.

Interspersed with all this is a shadow play about a family of rabbits who lose their only child, which is as haunting as it is beautiful.

The film works well as a metaphor for inescapable and all-encompassing grief but is absolutely relentless in its efforts to unsettle. Its style is reminiscent of 1970’s horror films like Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now, a film with which it shares subject matter.

Without spoiling it, and in an attempt to offer an incentive to persevere to the bitter end, I can say that the film finishes on a relatively hopeful note; however the preceding journey is so rough that you might regret taking it at all.

Critics have compared this to Groundhog Day meets the Babadook, which is not far off, but in its intensity, I personally found it more like Deliverance meets the Blair Witch Project.

Disconcerting and hellish, it is probably not the best film to lift your spirits, but given the pandemic is a surreal and seemingly repetitive nightmare from which there feels no escape, you may actually find something to empathise with here.

Conor Brennan

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