‘Koko-di Koko-da’ Review: Torture, Kill, Repeat

The likelihood of my going camping was slim even before I saw Johannes Nyholm’s tent-based terror, “Koko-di Koko-da,” but now it’s nonexistent. Don’t be lulled by the jaunty title — taken from a Scandinavian nursery rhyme and emanating here from a child’s music box — this “Groundhog Day” of murder and marital discord will ensure you never go down to the woods again.

Three years after experiencing a devastating tragedy, a young couple, Elin (Ylva Gallon) and Tobias (Leif Edlund), take a camping vacation, randomly pitching their tent in a deserted woodland glade. Bickering mercilessly, the two seem miserably trapped in the past, unable to reconnect or move beyond their pain. A terrifying nighttime attack by three grotesque figures and a slavering hound appears to leave one camper dead and the other bloodied and shaken — a scenario we’ll see replayed, again and again, with variations in violence and outcome. Is the couple locked in a supernatural time loop, or in a dreamlike purgatory of blame and guilt that neither will admit?

Thick with anxiety and unacknowledged trauma, “Koko-di Koko-da” (expanded from Nyholm’s 2017 short film, “The Music Box”) plays as part pitch-black fable, part psychological allegory. Though at times tasteless and barely coherent, the story is oddly affecting, the very strangeness of Nyholm’s folkloric vision and its unnerving execution pulling you in. Touchingly animated interludes reinforce an atmosphere of surreal and pervasive sadness — the aftershocks of a grief that can no longer be ignored.

Koko-di Koko-da
Not rated. In Swedish and Danish, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 29 minutes. Watch through virtual cinemas.

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