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Unhappy Death Day

Tobias Höiem-Flyckt/Dark Star Pictures

Koko-di Koko-da (2020)

It’s not often that a movie truly lives up to its horror billing. Sure you get scares, thrills and women being mistreated in the most unspeakable of ways, but it’s rare that you are made to feel as if you are in an interminable nightmare. This Swedish oddity, about three lives which are wrecked while on holiday in Denmark, does exactly this. It’s awful to watch, and not in a good way.

Elin (Ylva Gallon) and Tobias (Leif Edlund) are perfectly happy until the morning of their daughter Maja’s (Katarina Jackobson) eighth birthday. Her present, which she chose for herself, was an antique music box featuring a woman in a blue dress with a brown dog, an older white man in a white suit who carries a cane, and a “Sambo” (yes, really) with a white dog. Some time later, Elin and Tobias are on the world’s worst camping trip when the characters from the music box come to life. They torture Tobias and Elin in the most disgusting of ways on an endless loop. It’s hard to say what’s more horrendous: the unbelievable racism, or the eagerness with which writer-director Johannes Nyholm humiliates his main actors. And they are humiliated: stripped to their knickers, soiling themselves and being attacked by the dogs in the most unspeakable of ways, over and over again.

The pacing is so dreadful, the onscreen crimes so repellent and the sense of menace so hit-and-miss that the whole experience feels significantly longer than its 86 minutes. In all fairness, as a metaphor for grief, the concept is rock solid. And the silhouette animation sequences of the rabbit family belong in a more interesting, less gruesome story. But as it is, “Koko-di Koko-da” is virtually unwatchable. It’s a shame, since there are several great ideas in here that in more humane hands would have made great movies. But this is a horrible endurance test instead.


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