As a fan of psychological thrillers and loop films, think “Groundhog Day” (1993) and “Happy Death Day” (2017) I was curious, interested, and expecting horror thriller “Koko-di Koko-da,” a film from the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, to follow a similar format. After Elin (Ylva Gallon) and Tobias (Leif Edlund) tragically discover their daughter Maja dead on her eighth birthday the loop would traditionally start there, with the parents becoming smarter in each loop in a bid to save Maja, but director Johannes Nyholm took the film on an unexpected route.

We instead followed Elin and Tobias on a camping journey three years after the death of their daughter. Paralyzed by grief, the barely functioning couple takes a miserable vacation where they continually encounter a trio of murderous weirdos and a mean dog who looked straight out of a nightmarish nursery rhyme or an episode of “American Horror Story.” Each time the weirdos torture, kill, or humiliate Elin and Tobias in an unescapable loop.

The film more resembled the works of Darren Aronofsky, “Mother!” (2017) and “The Wrestler” (2008) immediately came to mind, with the pacing of this piece most similarly resembling the latter than a traditional loop film, which surprised and intrigued me from the onset. When I turned on this film I did not expect to get a think piece, but this is exactly that.

I have to say, I loved this film. It is strange. It is slowly terrifying, but not in an overwhelming way where I felt the need to turn it off in the sense that it is not akin to a film like “Funny Games” (2007,) it is more allegorical in an original way I have never seen before. The performances were excellent and the direction and editing equally stellar.

The movie was less about the campy quality of the endless loop, and more about the couple having to face their fears and each other. It was really about how difficult it is to overcome trauma, and how we cannot do it alone, even though we may want to. Every time Tobias tried to control the outcome of the loop he was in by making singular decisions, it shot him right back to the beginning.

This movie was unique in the sense that it really included the audience, and Nyholm was very successful in getting me to think about life. I began to reminisce about how it truly isn’t fair, and some of us get dealt worse cards than others. We are all essentially living inside our own loops, replaying missed opportunities, things we could have, should have or would have done. Unfair situations, and bad breaks, and, as long as we are stuck in these mental cycles we all face we will never move forward.

Our minds are a powerful tool, and in Tobias’s case he had to keep replaying his anguish and hurt over and over again in an attempt to overcome, reconcile, and understand of how deeply his daughter’s death affected him and how, if ever, he could move forward under horrific circumstances.

The only escape for the couple was clear, they had to confront their problems, anguish, fears, and grief head on and we follow them, and in many ways can all share, in that strange and nightmarish journey.

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Allie is an actor, filmmaker, screenwriter, and comedian from Chicago, Illinois. Her first feature "Kathryn Upside Down" was released in 2019 by Random Media and 1091 Media. She idolizes John Hughes, but when she's not thinking about movies she's putting together outfits and reading up on the latest fashion trends, her favorite designer is Marc Jacobs.


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