Directed by Kyle Edward Ball.
Starring Jaime Hill, Dali Rose Tetreault, Ross Paul, and Lucas Paul.
A pair of siblings wake up to find their father missing, in the middle of the night, and discover all access to their home has disappeared.
The renaissance of the horror genre, which took place a few years ago, made us fortunate enough to see some very interesting efforts put forth. Even the modern found footage craze, kick-started through 2007’s Paranormal Activity after The Blair Witch Project blazed the trail nearly a decade prior, has seen its fair share of decent outputs the since of late, but Skinamarink is a different beast altogether. I mean, it can be described as a found footage horror flick, but it also isn’t. Although it is certainly shot like one, it is a film that cannot be pigeonholed to one particular sub-genre. It is a very experimental piece of horror, and therein lies its biggest strength and weakness.
The premise is simple, two children wake up in the middle of the night to find their father missing, and with all the windows and doors in their home vanished. The move to keep things super basic, even going to the extent of keeping dialogue to a bare minimum, is obviously intentional by the filmmaker’s part – as it allows the visuals to tell the story and engage with the audience more. And the visuals truly are unique, disorienting and unsettling all at once. It’s an immersive experience that attempts to recreate the deepest fears and anxieties we’ve harbored as little children.
In order to accurately achieve his vision Canadian filmmaker Kyle Edward Ball actually asked viewers to post comments on their nightmares through his YouTube Channel Bitesized Nightmares, and the film is inspired by the recurrent tropes commonly submitted by those users. But the biggest stumbling block of this venture is that it is a highly subjective experience. For some Skinamarink is a terrifyingly effective exploration of childhood phobias, but for others it has proved to be a very frustrating watch. I however, fall somewhere comfortably in the middle.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed what I was watching, and during many an instance that eerie sense of déjà vu – the feeling that I’ve lived through this exact nightmare – was ever present. It is truly admirable what the director has achieved on a mere shoe-string budget, and the future certainly is bright for the talented creative if he lands the right projects, but hey this is showbiz and it’s impossible to predict what the future holds for people in it. Apart from Kyle Edward Ball’s innovative direction Jamie McRae’s claustrophobia inducing cinematography also deserve a shout out. The grainy, analog footage along with McRae’s disorientating camera angles ratchet up the nightmarish quality of the piece.
The biggest gripe I have with the movie is the run time, which is stretched way more than it should. Shaving off a good twenty minutes or so, in my opinion, wouldn’t have hurt the film or lessened its overall impact. By doing so they could have also averted the repetitive nature of some of the sequences featured in the film.
All in all, Skinamarink is an effective but polarizing genre piece that should appeal to fans of horror seeking something less conventional and more experimental. But whether it’d tickle the fancy of mainstream audiences, however, is a different story altogether.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Hasitha Fernando is a part-time medical practitioner and full-time cinephile. Follow him on Twitter via @DoctorCinephile for regular updates on the world of entertainment.