This Swedish horror/thriller is one that sends shivers down your spine in the fear it produces, but also provides some heart-breaking content concerning the grieving process
Koko-Di Koko-Da, a Swedish horror directed by Johannes Nyholm, has many awards to its name and it’s not hard to see why. Last year it won Best Screenplay at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival and Best Picture at the Brussels International Film Festival, among others, and was nominated for World Cinema at Sundance Film Festival and Best Motion Picture at the Catalonian International Film Festival. None of this is surprising when you watch the film and realise just how utterly weird, creepy, and yet ultimately heartbreaking it is.
The story centres around a married couple, Elin (Ylva Gallon) and Tobias (Leif Eflund), who venture off on a camping trip to try and save their fractured relationship however find themselves stuck in a traumatising loop, turning their holiday into something likened to a nightmare. The premise of the film is not clear at the start, nor is it overtly clear at the end. Although it’s clearly a horror/thriller with the inclusion of tropes such as secluded surroundings and unsettling characters, it’s impossible to predict the plot due to a lack of explanation. This is just one factor in the film’s terrifying nature.
Focusing on Elin and Tobias throughout, the plot settles into a rhythm, but it’s never predictable. It deals explicitly with their horrific experiences of grief, and viewers watch their repeated mental torment, which is as creepy as it is heart-breaking. Yet just as it starts to dull a little with its repetitions, there’s an added twist which causes even more confusion when watching. But, what’s a good film, if it doesn’t have you constantly questioning reality?
An aspect that stands out amongst many others is its use of unique styles in filmmaking. During the car sequences, the shaky handheld cinematography makes it feel like you are sat in the back seat of Elin and Tobias’s car. It’s these camera angles which are the main catalyst for the fear you experience whilst watching. The symbolic puppet show depicting rabbits and a bird is confusing at first, seemingly irrelevant to the story-line, but as the film progresses, vague details become clearer. It takes a while for the sense of confusion to disappear whilst the film plays out, which was likely one of Nyholm’s aims in his direction, as he has admitted that it’s about ‘relationships and sometimes you feel like you are walking and in different directions and pulling in directions and getting nowhere and it could be like an entrapment – a very claustrophobic feeling.’
Though Koko-Di Koko-Da is characterised as a horror/thriller, it is more saddening than others of the same genre. As the fear increases whilst watching, so do the feelings of sadness towards Elin and Tobias as their mental torment becomes clear.
To conclude, it would be impossible to speak of this film and not mention its signature song. “Koko-di Koko-da” is a famous French children’s song about a dead rooster not being able to sing ‘Koko-di Koko-da anymore’ because it is dead. It’s catchy and will easily get stuck in your head in a haunting loop – much like the repetitive motifs in the film itself. Koko-Di Koko-Da is a film that’s weird yet addictive, and one which you’ll remember for a long time after watching.
Koko-Di Koko-Da (18), directed by Johannes Nyholm, is distributed in the UK via Picturehouse Entertainment and will be available to watch on September 7th.