Review by Camden Ferrell
Koko-di Koko-da had its premiere in 2019 at the Sundance Film Festival and has since played several other festivals. This is the sophomore feature film from Swedish director Johannes Nyholm. This is a surprising film that has an interesting premise with terrifying execution.
Tobias and Elin are a couple that embark on a camping trip to try and reconnect years after a tragedy. However, the find themselves being relentlessly terrified by an artist and his eccentric crew. This premise is fascinating, and it feels very fresh, and it’s very shocking for those who go into this film with no previous knowledge.
The film’s first 30 minutes are unpredictable and shocking, and it’s a great appetizer for the insanity that follows for the final hour. Nyholm’s script is simple, but it gets the job done very well. Less is more for this film, and the film’s often minimal script works very well in preserving the mystery and terror of the story that’s unfolding.
The acting in this film is great. Leif Edlund plays Tobias, and he does a great job of reacting to the insanity of the film’s story, and he gives a great and frantic performance. However, the real star is Ylva Gallon who stars alongside Edlund as Elin. She gives a harrowing performance of grief that is equal parts thrilling and emotional. It’s a complex and difficult role that she lends her talents to gracefully throughout the film.
Equal parts Funny Games and Antichrist, this is a unique cinematic experience that will keep its audience guessing and in suspense. It’s a maniacal portrait of grief that is seldom seen in film. It uses its terror to effectively supplement the more human themes that are present throughout the film. It perfectly captures the sometimes inescapable and looming effects of grief. We see the psychological toll of grief on a couple, and it feels surprisingly fresh for such a common theme.
Despite how great the film is, its repetitive premise sometimes catches up to itself. It’s not boring by any means, but after a few iterations, it doesn’t always meet the same shock value that it had previously. It’s a well-executed premise, but it’s still not perfect. Luckily, this is compensated by how inherently terrifying some moments in this movie can be thanks the Nyholm’s direction.
This film is one of the biggest surprises this year. It’s a movie that becomes more insane the as you delve deeper into Nyholm’s madness. It’s a fast-paced nightmare that goes by like a breeze. There isn’t much wasted screen time, and Nyholm injects some great musical and quasi-animated sequences throughout that makes this movie so original and enjoyable.
Koko-di Koko-da is a film that is most definitely worth checking out. There is a great blend of absurdity and horror that will appeal to audiences. It features some great direction and fantastic acting, and it may be one of 2020’s biggest sleeper hits.
Koko-di Koko-da opens in virtual theaters November 6 (a list of participating theaters can be found here) and VOD on December 8.