Too exploitative to be intelligent, too repetitive to be innovative, Swedish director Johannes Nyholm’s second feature is an ambitious attempt to tackle the long-lasting effects of deep-set trauma that loses steam very quickly. With a dash of twisted surrealism that Nyholm previously explored in 2016’s The Giant, Koko-di Koko-da cooks up a twisted take on Alice in Wonderland that juggles heavy themes but never treats them with the sincerity or maturity that they deserve.

The film’s main saving grace is Ylva Gallon and Leif Edlund’s committed performances as the central couple Elin and Tobias, who are struggling to keep their lives intact after the loss of their daughter three years prior. On a camping trip to the wilderness, Elin wakes to find three mysterious figures emerging from the woods, who, it soon becomes clear, intend to torture and kill them.

The crux of the story comes when we see Elin and Tobias brutally murdered, only for us to return to Elin waking up and re-discovering the murderous trio. We are subsequently plunged into a cycle of violence, a murderous Groundhog Day in the vein of the Happy Death Day series. Intended as a metaphor for Elin and Tobias’ never-ending struggle with their trauma, the film’s second act instead becomes a laborious patience test that features some seriously unnecessary sexual abuse themes (at one point, Elin’s genitals are attacked by a dog while the leader of the woodland group cackles and eggs him on).

What is clearly a passion project, with two strong central performances and some rather effective cinematography that brings a haunting atmosphere to the woodland setting, ends up floundering in a consistently frustrating middle act. It’s a shame, because the final sequence is surprisingly touching, but it is all ultimately wasted in the pursuit of unnecessary shocks and stretched metaphors.



CAST: Leif Edlund, Ylva Gallon, Peter Belli, Katarina Jakobson, Morad Baloo Khatchadorian

DIRECTOR: Johannes Nyholm

WRITER: Johannes Nyholm

SYNOPSIS: A couple are traumatised by the sudden death of their young daughter, and embark on a camping holiday in an attempt to save their marriage. But they are soon visited by a murderous trio intent on torturing them repeatedly.