Skinamarink (2022) – Film Review
Director: Kyle Edward Ball
Cast: Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Ross Paul
By Sarah Morgan
Sometimes, as a reviewer, you want to get your thoughts down immediately because your response to a film is so clear. But occasionally, you need a while to get your thoughts together.
With Skinamarink, an experimental Canadian horror movie initially released in 2022, I fell well and truly in the latter category.
Like so many movies that are, shall we say, a little on the odd or unusual side, writer-director Kyle Edward Ball’s feature-length debut has been compared to the work of David Lynch. At a push you could say they share an unnerving, slightly dreamlike quality, but it’s a bit of a stretch; they’re not particularly similar. However, as has often been the case with numerous other low-budget horror movie-makers, Ball has made the most of his limited resources to create something genuinely original and startling. Whether it warrants a run time of 100 minutes is another matter…
The entire film is shot in a lo-fi fashion; it resembles something that might have been recorded on one of those bulky home video cameras back in the 1980s and 1990s, complete with grainy footage and slightly rubbish audio. It’s also mostly filmed from a child’s eye view, which makes it seem even more distorted because, as adults, we’re no longer used to seeing things from that angle.
Ball made the film in his childhood home for just $15k. It tells the story of four-year-old Kevin and his big sister Kaylee who wake up to find that both of their parents are missing, the windows keep disappearing and everything seems to be slightly out of kilter; big shadows loom everywhere and ordinary objects suddenly become terrifyingly creepy.
The kids speak almost entirely in whispers, seemingly afraid to anger or maybe awaken the disturbing presence that appears to be taking over their tiny world. But what is this presence? Is it a demon or, perhaps more disturbingly, their own father?
“Much to admire”
Skinamarink came into being after Ball, who ran a YouTube channel featuring shorts depicting people’s nightmares, decided to make a feature based on a recurring dream apparently shared by various people. The result gained a cult following after being accidentally leaked on TikTok.
Now, a few days after viewing it, I’ve processed my thoughts and come to the conclusion that, for me, the film is an interesting experiment with much to admire, but it’s just far too long. It starts out as being rather fascinating and ends brilliantly well, but the middle section adds little to the film – chop that chunk out and you’ve got a genuinely terrifying 30-40 minute short with the potential to give you a whole new set of night terrors.