After making its world premiere at last year’s Fantasia International Film Festival. Skinamarink became an Internet sensation. It quickly reached almost ten million views and impressions on Tik Tok and Twitter just in November. The film is about two children who wake up in the middle of the night to find their dad missing. All the windows and doors in the house have vanished leaving the siblings alone and with nowhere to go.
Writer-director Kyle Edward Ball traffics in nightmares. His YouTube channel is filled with spooky nostalgia and visuals. Skinamarink takes things to the next level as it is a feature length night terror many will be able to relate to. Horror tells stories are meant to affect people at the most visceral level. Skinamarink is more of an experience. It creates a hellish scenario in which the fear is almost entirely in the viewer’s mind. The setting is eerie and there is a jump scare or two, but the most frightening part is the uncertainty.
Which is not to say that it lacks a narrative. There is a clear story here that plays with the common nightmare children have about their parents disappearing. The sound design is excellent as the two children mainly speak in hushed tones and whispers. In order to fill the silence, they have turned on a television. Sometimes, it is hard to understand exactly what is being said. This adds to the frustration which feeds into the scares.
Skinamarink moves at a methodical pace that resembles a slideshow at times. As slow as it can be, it never tests anyone’s patience. The use of lighting and shadows plays into the situation. Each scene is an invitation to investigate every corner and dark area. It becomes impossible to tell whether something is there and moving or if it is just imagined.
There were a lot of bold choices made in the film’s production. While some of that can be explained by budget (it was made for a paltry $15,000), decisions like the slow pace and arthouse aesthetic were risky. The end result is a movie that looks like nothing else out there today. The terror rarely jumps out and instead builds in your mind as thoughts race through your head. Skinamarink is a generational horror film that has to be seen.
Skinamark opens in theaters January 13th
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