Sunday, 27 December 2020

Koko-di Koko-da

Koko-di Koko-da

Writer & director: Johannes Nyholm

2019, Sweden-Denmark

Johannes Nyholm ‘Koko-di Koko-da’ put the ‘Groundhog Day’ time-loop premise in a horror context, but it couldn’t be more different from ‘Happy Death Day’.  It has the colourful veneer of a children’s picture book and a blend of fairy-tale and the horror scenario where a couple are subjected to the sadism of a gang of wandering folklore-carnival psychopaths. And it's the kind of film happily to throw in an animated sequence too. What most intrigues is that the repetition of the scenario does not inherently instigate personal growth but an exploration and exposition of human fallibilities in this extreme situation, in this failure of reality. For example, the slasher scenario not only triumphs the Final Girl, but also surely exposes the anxieties of failing for the Male Protectors. 

The title is from a children's rhyme. ‘Koko-Di Koko-da’ mercilessly subjects its couple Tobias (Leif Edlund Johansson) and Elin (Ylva Gallon) to the worst trauma – the death of a child- but then continues to mercilessly expose how they haven’t dealt with it well, three years later. The repetition of their persecution when camping exposes as much selfishness and incompetence as moments of bravery. Whether pure analogy for their relentless grief, ruthlessly persecuted by the proxies of their daughter’s imagined revenge, or actual supernatural ambush, it doesn’t matter. It’s a pattern that puts its victims in recurring states of humiliation and awkwardness. The not knowing is part of the existential horror. Glenn Kenny may object to its nihilism, but the scenario portrayed here is also weirdly sympathetic to a self-persecution that the characters cannot get out of.

Surreal, mean, darkly funny, it’s abstractness might put some off, but it’s the unconventionality, using the genre to depict states of feeling and mind, constantly testing the mettle of the victims, are exactly what makes it unforgettable. 

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