Despite being released in the festival circuits back in 2019, Koko-di Koko-da deserves a bigger audience, and thanks to Shudder’s Exclusive and Original distributions, Swedish director Johannes Nyholm gets to see his sophomore feature receive greater access.
There are some that may instantly be turned away from the subtitles, but if you’re not averse to this, then you’re in for a disturbingly surreal tale about grief.
The film begins with a couple, Tobias and Elin take their daughter, Maja on holiday to the coastal town of Skagen for a holiday. What should be an idyllic occasion soon turns sour though when Maja is struck ill from an allergic reaction to eating seafood. This swiftly becomes fatal and Tobias and Elin are left rocking from this tragedy.
The real holiday begins though three years later when the now estranged couple try to rekindle their relationship, having felt the strain that the loss of their daughter has had on them both. Embittered and self-destructive, the couple have reached their limits, but somehow they find it in themselves to find a way to reunite in one of the most dire things that a couple can do… go camping!
It seems an odd choice considering their torment, as anyone who can attest to that may have gone camping, it’s not the most relaxing of things to do, and can generate ill-feeling when things go awry.
Driven by the desire to see the trip through, Tobias strays off the road and decides to camp in a remote woodland location. Never a good idea, but they never thought that they would encounter a strange a sideshow troupe made up of an elderly man in a white suit who serves as a sort of emcee to the macabre and twisted events that he forces the couple through; a large muscle man character, and a thin gothic looking woman.
The nightmare becomes stranger still when it becomes evident that the couple have fallen into some kind of time warp and no matter how hard they try to change the course of events are forced to endure. They must work together and find a path that unites them both and not born out of a selfish need to survive, if they are to make any way out of their suffering.
This is definitely one for fans of surreal horror infused with dark comedy. It is stitched together with short shadow play depictions of the grief that lay at the centre of their ordeal, which also slips Koko-di Koko-da into artsy terrain and may turn people away.
However, I enjoyed the reality that Nyholm plays with the subject of grief and the depth that this can take on the central characters.
It’s an emotion that can send you transcending downward in a spiral of destruction, often willing to subject oneself to the agony and guilt of it all.
For this, Koko-di Koko-da is a tough but fascinating watch.
- Saul Muerte