29th Jul2019

Fantasia 2019: ‘Koko-Di Koko-Da’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Peter Belli, Leif Edlund, Ylva Gallon, Katarina Jakobson, Morad Khatchadorian, Brandy Lietmanen | Written and Directed by Johannes Nyholm

koko-di_koko_da-poster

After recently re-discovering my fondness for movies that are about people dealing with grief, I seem to have almost accidentally watched quite a few, and the oddly titled Koko-Di Koko-Da can be included in this category.

Like many of these movies, Koko-Di Koko-Da begins with a emotional and upsetting scene which explains the grief that, in this movie, a couple are going through. After struggling to cope with the loss, the couple decide to go on a camping trip to the woods but do not worry. This is certainly not a typical horror movie about people camping in the woods.

On the first night in the woods, the couple are attacked by a sideshow artist and his entourage which includes a man, a woman and a dog. The attack is violent and creepy, partly because the artist is so gleefully happy in what they are doing. It all ends surprisingly quickly and the camera pans upwards so we get a birds-view of the aftermath. Suddenly, in the next moment, we are back in the tent with the couple, now healthy and alive. What happens next is like a Groundhog Day/Happy Death Day-style scene but the attack is different from the last. Once again ending in that birds eye view. Was it a dream? Are we seeing what happens in multiple parallel universes? We soon see a little of what is happening.

The man in the relationship remembers what happened the time before. Each and every time. While the woman has no memory of it. So with the guy in panic after each incident and desperately trying to avoid the next one, the woman becomes more and more scared at what he is doing with little explanation.

The director creates some really interesting characters. The couple have a great back story and their relationship is continuously interesting. Whereas the artist and his entourage are truly bizarre. Looking completely out of place in the forest, the artist is happy, in bright white clothing and worryingly chilling. The man at his side is like an old-school strong man that says nothing and the woman just comes across as a violent killer. Along with an overly aggressive dog, they are an odd but pretty terrifying group.

A child’s music box score, along with some suitably creepy music really sets the tone. A decent chunk of the movie is made-up of some very cool, hand drawn-like animation that explains some of the sub text. This animation adds to the truly unique nature of Koko-Di Koko-Da.

There’s some also interesting ideas that could be looked into with deeper meaning. I kept thinking, why is the man in the couple the one repeating the scene over and over? Why can he not seem to do anything about the group attacking his partner. It’s a really intriguing and original take on how people deal with loss and grief.

Thankfully the movie does have some kind of happy ending. Maybe happy is the wrong word but I had a kind of relived, emotional smile on my face as the credits rolled.

Horror comes in all forms and Koko-Di Koko-Da is an brilliantly original way of portraying it.

**** 4/5

Koko-Di Koko-Da screened at the 2019 Fantasia International Film Festival on Wednesday July 24th.

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