New Horror Releases: Koko-Di Koko-Da (2019) - Reviewed

It should be pretty clear by now that horror is having a moment.  We had a solid ten-year period there where it felt like film after film was just another remake of a horror classic from the '70s or '80s.  

Finally, with directors like Jordan Peele, Robert Eggers, Ari Aster, etc. making smart original horror films, it seems like we've reached a new golden age.  The last couple years especially have seen a few horror films set in the Swedish wilderness, such as Midsommar and The Ritual.  Now, there's another film to add to the mix.  Written and directed by Jonannes NyholmKoko-di Koko-da tells the story of a Swedish couple, Tobias and Elin, who encounter a demented gang of sideshow performers while camping in the wilderness.

Koko-di Koko-da appears to take a few notes from The Babadook in that the main characters are having trouble processing their grief from a tragic loss.  This grief sets up the rest of the story as they set out to go camping, and subsequently into a surrealist Groundhog Day-esquenightmare as a band of misfits emerge from the woods in a seemingly endless loop to terrorize Tobias and Elin.  As the film progresses, the line between what's real and what's fake blurs as we, the audience are gripped by an impending sense of dread over what may or may not ensue.  

Leif Edlund and Ylva Gallon are both fantastic as Tobias and Elin.  It's harder than you might think to pull off a believable performance showcasing sheer and absolute terror, and without it, this film would have lost any semblance of realism.  The true scene-stealer however, is Peter Belli as Mog, the terrifying leader of the crazed gang of murderous performers.  The wicked grin on his face alone is enough to haunt your dreams as he delights in terrorizing Tobias and Elin.  He's a villain I'm unlikely to forget anytime soon.  

At its heart, Koko-di Koko-da is all about how we deal with loss, and more specifically, how we maintain our relationships with those closest to us in the aftermath of that loss.  It's all too easy to grow distant and cold from everyone around you while dealing with grief.  This film shows you (in the most extreme ways possible), how shutting yourself off from those you love can have negative consequences.  The cold distance between Tobias and Elinis what leads to their nightmarish ordeals.  Conversely, it's when they finally give in and open up to one another that they are able to triumph over their demons and move on to a happier and healthier future together.  Koko-di Koko-damay end up haunting your dreams, but somehow, it might also succeed in brightening up your day.

-Derek Miranda

Koko-Di Koko-Da releases in cinemas this coming November!