Written and directed by Kyle Edward Ball, two children wake up in the middle of the night to find their father is missing, and all the windows and doors in their home have vanished. Starring: Jaime Hill, Lucas Paul, Ross Paul and Dali Rose Tetreault.
Skinamarink takes what we’ve experienced from films like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity and adds a more obscure spin, creating a hybrid which is not quite found footage but takes its lead from them. Obscure being the key word here because Kyle Edward Ball takes one hell of a swing with the style of his directorial debut. It will inevitably divide viewers, it’s incredibly risky to take on such a minimalist, indirect and intentionally withholding style, leaving a huge reliance on your audience to invest in what goes unsaid. When it opens up, it leaves you completely unsure of what to think, where it might be going or what to make of it and you may still feel like that by the time it ends. However, you can’t help but admire how original it is, horror is a genre that revels in originality so it’s always refreshing to see.
When you move into the storytelling aspect of it, the key theme that runs all throughout is creating a feel of unease. Using that sense of safety from being in your own home against the characters, pulling the rug out from under them. Then the decisive atmosphere created alongside it is one of sincere creepiness, it’s determined to get under your skin. Both in the sense of longing to find out what’s actually going on and because it builds a feel of that anything could happen, which when you’re centring your story on children, is particularly unsettling. However, it’s another element which will be divisive because it is resolute in telling you or giving away as little as possible, it lives in the grey area.
It delves into the classic themes of possession, poltergeists and hauntings. In doing so it creates a lot of little touches which keep you coming back for more, and despite that minimalist style it does hold a surprisingly good pacing to it. Especially drawing on how children are easily taken in by malicious presences, which has been seen in a multitude of horror flicks and never loses its effectiveness. It does still have that big reliance on using your imagination and discomfort to fuel the story forward. Giving you the clues to find the way and asking you to trust it, rather than handing you all the answers. It’s an interesting choice and a fairly unique path to take but while some viewers will find the value in it, others may simply be left frustrated.
Skinamarink is utterly original and a unique experience but may leave you somewhat unsatisfied. Kyle Edward Ball’s style is influenced by horror that we know and love but takes a huge risk in interpreting classic themes in a strange new way. It has the potential to either dig itself under your skin or struggle to break the surface, all depending on how deep your imagination can dive into this nightmare world.