Wednesday, November 4, 2020

A small but creepy slice of horror


A creepy sense of terror has invaded the movies and it manifests itself in Koko-Di Koko-Da, a modest helping of psychologically-based horror from Swedish director Johannes Nyholm. The title derives from a Swedish nursery rhyme that, in the movie, plays on a music box adorned with a dog, a bearish man, a crazy-looking young woman, and a man in a suit and straw hat. These characters are introduced early on, a strange trio that walks through thick woods. One of them carries a dead dog. They also are accompanied by a vicious dog, who of course is still living. The movie then shifts to a vacationing couple. Tobias (Leif Edlund) and Elin (Ylva Gallon) seem to be having a good enough time. But Elin experiences a life-threatening allergic reaction after eating a pizza topped with mussels.  She recovers but the couple's eight-year-old daughter (Katarina Jakobson), who also ate the pizza, dies. The movie then leaps ahead several years and Tobias and Elin are seen embarking on another vacation. He prefers off-road camping; she wants to check into a B&B. Tobias prevails and from that point on, Koko-Di Koko-Da becomes a nightmarish foray into a situation in which the same scene keeps replaying, each time in slightly different fashion. Know, though, that the bizarre characters mentioned earlier show up with some very violent intentions. It's not clear whether we're watching terrible recurring dreams and if so, whose dreaming them. Nyholm raises interesting questions about Tobias' inability to act in ways that might spare his wife and -- real or imagined -- the movie's sinister invaders are plenty scary. After several repetitions, the movie’s repeated scenario becomes a bit tiresome, but by the end we understand that Nyholm wants to tell a kind of allegorical tale about repressed emotion.  Koko-Di Koko-Da isn't entirely satisfying but it keeps us off guard and may make viewers think twice about pitching tents in isolated forests.

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