KOKO-DI KOKO-DA – A Review by Cynthia Flores
Some films are critical, Darlings. Movies that the critics think are superb and for a good reason. While general audiences are left scratching their heads trying to figure out what all the commotion is about. Koko-Di Koko-Da is one of those films.
Koko-Di Koko-Da tells the story of Elin (Ylva Gallon) and Tobias (Leif Edlund), a young couple on their yearly vacation with their daughter Maja (Katarina Jakobson). They are a happy family, and it’s the day before Maja’s 8th birthday. She sees a child’s music box in a store window. It has decorations showing a Mog (Peter Belli), a man in a white suit holding a cane and whistling. Followed by a young girl named Cherry (Brandy Litmanen) with very long black hair walking her dog. Followed by a big strong man named Sampo (Morad Baloo Khatchadorian) carrying an animal in his arms. They all march around the toy as it plays the creepy children’s nursery song Koko-Di Koko-Da. It originally comes from a French folk song called ”Rooster Death”. It’s a naive song about a dead rooster that can’t sing anymore.
On this trip, the family is hit with a vicious case of food poisoning. This alters the course of their lives. Three years later, Elin and Tobias are on the road again to go camping. They are trying to go back to the way things used to be when they were happy. Instead, they find themselves terrorized in the woods by the characters’ twisted personifications from their daughters’ music box, Mog, Cherry, and Sampo. That day brings brutal horrors that repeat themselves infinitely. Together, the couple must overcome their trauma and reconcile with their past so they can fight for their lives.
This is Swedish director Johannes Nyholm’s second full feature film since his 2016 debut, The Giant. For this movie, he does it all. On top of writing and directing this film, he also produced it using his own production company. That makes him a triple threat. He’s also well known for his background in classical animation. Which he uses here to great effect. Mixing different styles of shadow puppetry to create genuinely touching moments in the film. Something you don’t expect from a traditional comedic horror film. His use of these different mediums keeps the film floating between dream states and reality.
When asked what inspired him to make this twisted tale, the director is quoted as explaining. “The setting is those wee hours of the morning when dreams are at their most relentlessly untamed. This is also when the seed for many of my films comes to me.” He goes on to say, “I’m sweating, struggling to go back to sleep and plagued by scattered thoughts. Suddenly they come together, leading me into a fairy tale. I write it down, and then I can sleep. “Koko-di Koko-da” was both written and takes place during such a time – this nightmarish landscape between wakefulness and sleep.”
Koko-Di Koko-Da has some brilliant moments. However, there was a surprising bestiality scene that really derailed the film for me. I enjoyed this odd movie on such universal themes as grief and reconciliation, using love as a healing force when the brutality just went too far for me. Taking me out of the “suspension of disbelief” critical to enjoying a film’s storytelling when it’s planted in the style of a fable.
I give Koko-Di Koko-Da a 2.5-star rating. Its song is out of tune for me.
Directed by: Johannes Nyholm
Written by: Johannes Nyholm
Selig Rating: 2.5 Stars
Running Time: 86min
Comedy / Foreign / Horror
Release: December 8th VOD
Starring: Peter Belli, Leif Edlund, Ylva Gallon, Katrina Jackobson, Brandy Litmanen
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.