January 18, 2023 Skinamarink (Movie Review)
You wake up in a cold sweat. Your heart thuds loudly in your chest. Slowly, as you regather your senses, you realize that everything is okay. You just had a nightmare and thank God nightmares aren’t real… right? Only what if the nightmares that you were so glad to be rid of were brought back to life? This concept formed the basis of Filmmaker Kyle Edward Ball’s YouTube channel; where he would upload videos based on the nightmares recounted to him by commenters and subscribers.
The hot, buzzworthy film Skinamarink recounts one such nightmare. Initially released at the 2022 Fantasia Film Festival, followed by the #Skinamarink hashtag which attracted 6.8 million views on TikTok and 1.7 million Twitter impressions in November of 2022, thanks to Shudder the film opened exclusively in theaters nationwide on January 13, 2023. The feature directorial debut from Ball, the story follows two children who wake up in the dead of night, only to discover that they cannot find their father and their mother is acting oddly. Where is daddy? And why do all the doors and windows keep vanishing? Unraveling from here, Ball himself had a nightmare when he was little about his parents disappearing and there being something sinister in the house with him, and many other people shared that they had also experienced this nightmare. In fact, in 2020, Ball made the short film Heck as a proof of concept for Skinamarink. After that he was able to raise the majority of the film’s budget with a crowdfunding campaign and shot the film in his own childhood home.
Nightmares are often confounding, feverish or slightly out of reach and Skinamarink perfectly brings to life that disconcerting feeling of being both present and not present, of reaching for things not there and of seeing things out of the corner of your eye before they then disappear or reappear. As you can imagine, that nightmarish reality brought to life on screen means that Skinamarink is visually unique. Skinamarink takes place in a darkened house were predominantly the shots are of blank corners of ceilings and floors. The audience sees feet padding across the landing, but doesn’t ever properly see the people in which the feet belong to. Often the audience will be straining their eyes just to try and see what is going on. Whilst this all adds to the atmosphere of dread and confusion, it does mean that the film is at times hard going with the audience given full responsibility for digging beneath the surface and keeping themselves fully engaged.
In the end, Skinamarink is unsettling and creepy, but it is not a traditional Horror experience… and it may well prove too abstract for some. Skinamarink is experimental and deals with sensory deprivation, and at a running time of one hundred minutes, the film will undoubtedly completely alienate some audiences.
A passion project which dares to be different, Skinamarink is a five-star film in terms of creativity and concept. However, as a cinematic experience it is a lot more divisive. For those who have experienced this very same dream, then Skinamarink may turn out to be one of the most horrifying films you have watched for a long time. For everyone else, this may prove a bit of a nightmare for completely different reasons. Everything considered, Cryptic Rock gives it 3 out of 5 stars.