Koko-di Koko-Da – Fantasia 2019 Review

To be completely transparent with you fellow reader, I originally hated Johannes Nyholm’s Koko-di Koko-Da. I’m usually a fan of Nordic surrealist fables with a pinch of dark promiscuity, with films such as Trollhunter and Border being particular examples of films which I’ve previously was enamored with in the past. However, in the case of Nyholm’s sophomore vision, I was largely nauseated and annoyed by the repetitive nuances, rather than preferably being amused by them. There’s almost something so crass about the subject matter of humiliation and torment, that doesn’t feel emotionally attached with the central humanistic construct of the main characters internal motivations. In someway, the film is extraordinary depraved and sadistic in terms of it’s largely implied, off screen violence. 

That’s when it hit me. When pondering for a bit, throughout the evening following my screening of the film; I came to the realization that there’s almost something so enchanting and memorable about Koko-di Koko-Da. It’s a gloomy think-piece of sorts, that takes a “Groundhog Day-Loop” plot device, and extends it to the point of enraging the audience’s patience. I heard numerous groans and sighs throughout each and every setback, and with each loop, the audience from my screening grew louder and more aggressive with the film’s broken-record nature. In someways, this was a very clever directorial choice for Nyholm to do; to set the audience into the mindset of the film’s central couple, and put them through the same psychological torture; with a carnival soundtrack included! It’s terrifying to see these acts of violence from the cartoonish perpetrators presented in such an abominable light, whom of which never let down their private aggravating rituals. 

When looking at the more allegorical elements of the film, they ultimately serve a purpose to tell a horrific tale about grief, and how to come to a mutual understanding regarding the death of a loved one. Although, the repetitive nature of the film does weigh down the thematic weight of the film, causing these surprisingly deep morals to become notably shallow and underdeveloped. Even at some specific sequences, the correlation between message and visuals doesn’t necessarily fuse into a cohesive moving picture, causing all built up emotional response from the audience, to be ultimately dumped into a forest of forgotten cinematic experiences. 

If there’s anything to be certain about Koko-di Koko-Da, is that it needed a major trim job. What could have suitably worked as a mid-length film, the dragged out and admittedly effective sequences of torment doesn’t clash well with the film’s messages; in which the thematic material can be easily resolved as the most relevant reason for this film’s very existence and purpose. It’s wickedly horrific, with some incredible performances and luscious visuals. Shame that the final execution of the product, didn’t turn out as great as I previously hoped.

Koko-di Koko-Da screened at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival. The film will re-screen again on Friday July 26th, at 9:55 PM in Salle J.A. De Sève.  The film is currently seeking International Distribution.

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