Pro tip for characters in horror movies: if you’re thinking about going into the woods… just don’t… ever. It always spells certain doom. I, on the other hand, love some good deep-in-the-forest frights, as there are few things scarier than the isolation and eerie quiet, punctuated by the odd far-off sound of branches snapping. For the playfully sinister Koko-di Koko-da, Swedish filmmaker Johannes Nyholm (2016’s Jätten) takes that fateful trip into the woods to insane new structural and thematic heights.
Koko-di Koko-da (a refrain in the film that you’ll be singing in your nightmares for weeks to come) is best approached with little beforehand knowledge. On paper, the setup is simple – a few years after a horrible tragedy, married couple Tobias and Elin (Leif Edlund Johansson and Ylva Gallon) go on a camping trip to try and repair their fractured relationship. From this Antichrist-like intro, Nyholm crafts a stunningly emotional and intricately creepy meditation on grief, as the couple find themselves trapped in an endless hellhole where they are terrorized by a ghostly circus troupe. But that doesn’t even begin to describe the narrative layers stacked on top of and beside one another, commencing from before they even enter the woods at all.
What keeps things grounded amidst the ever-increasing avant-garde chaos is the devastating performances of the two leads. While I do wish that Elin’s character had been given a little more to do in this funhouse hall of mirrors, both actors commit fully in roles that put them through the ringer, often in long and anxiety-inducing uninterrupted takes.
To say more would spoil the sick pleasures within so just take the plunge and grab on to those armrests. This is one edgy psychological journey from which no one emerges unscathed.
- Release Date: 2/21/2020