This Danish/Swedish co-production from writer/director Johannes Nyholm (The Giant) tells the tale of Tobias and Elin; a thirty-something couple who stumble upon a troupe of art/circus weirdos while on a camping trip. Led by a shifty, white suit wearing sideshow artist with two dogs (one dead), the freaks beleaguer and torture the couple. Tobias and Elin then find themselves locked in a perpetual time-loop while trying to escape, so must find a way to evade the weirdos then disentangle themselves from the alternative realities.
Writer/director Nyholm brilliantly balances gnarly drama and austere surrealism; hurling tar dark humour, camp-site/invasion/circus horror and Dali/Bunuel-like lunacy into the cine-broth to make a gloopy, befuddling yet tantalising nightmare. But Koko-Di Koko-Da is not without its fissures. The story dawdles due to self-imposed structural limitations (because of the loop) which results in it slumping into a stultifying lull.
Shadows of crudely drawn bunny rabbits during fantasy scenes augment KDKD with an ethereal air, making it hallucinatory like contaminated brain flu. A music box MacGuffin links the troupe to the time twitch as does the presence of a creepy white cat which pops up to distract/suggest danger’s afoot. The concept’s psychosis is commendably raw, as is the surrealism and drab beauty that bleeds streaks down the screen like rainbows dissolving in black petrol puddles.
Sadly the script seems to dally as though drafted in ten minutes on the bus to production, but, structural flaws aside, KDKD gets by on great craft and a psycho clown dream feel. It is just sometimes vexingly monotonous and exultantly sombre. A stunning folk/finger picking guitar score by Olof Cornéer and Simon Ohlsoon tweaks neck hairs and nerve ends to make slower moments astound which helps turn KDKD into a disjointed, disconcerting and often powerful cult in the making.
Nyholm’s film may leave some fidgeting confounded and sighing into their snacks, but cult/art film fanatics should find much to love and leave grinning gleefully. The story and characters literally cover old ground and crawl slow but KDKD is predominantly beautiful and bonkers enough to placate: like The League of Gentlemen meets Freaks, the Blair Witch and David Lynch (wearing arm bands) for a fist fight with the Grimm Brothers in a coagulating blancmange (on Groundhog Day). There seems to be much that inspired KDKD; not too much to make it feel less unique, but due to plot defects it often befuddles and seems paradoxically dull.