Skinamarink is based on Kyle Edward Ball’s short film Heck. Although somewhat dull at times, it encapsulates well the polarizing feeling of fear. Amazingly, the film has grossed over 2 million dollars on a shoestring budget of only $15,000.
The film centers around two children, a brother and sister named Kevin (played by Lucas Paul) and Kaylee (played by Dali Rose Tetreault), who wake in the middle of the night to strange noises. The pair call out for their father, who seems to be missing. All the windows and doors in the house begin to disappear and reappear. The children start hearing a voice calling out to them from the darkness, and lights begin to flicker throughout the house.
The cinematography (by Jamie McRae) and camera work are very dark and grainy, almost giving the look of a ’70s super 8 film. Director Kyle Edward Ball gives us little sprinklings of Poltergeist; not sure if that was intentional. In the film, items throughout the house keep flipping around from floor to ceiling, and windows keep appearing and disappearing. It causes your mind to play tricks on you, giving the appearance that there are things in the shadows that may or may not be there. Overall, a very nightmarish feeling… like a child’s nightmare coming to life. Fun fact: the movie was shot entirely in the director’s childhood home.
The storyline is very vague and artsy, with slightly skewed camera work, which is tension-building. Little bits and pieces of story thread throughout the film, which never really provide the audience with much. At least you can attach your own meaning to things. Sure, it invokes the childhood fear of the dark, but the plot feels secondary, and, overall, it’s more of an experience for the senses.
Scenes from classic cartoons running on a TV seem to foreshadow what’s to happen, while the disappearance of the windows and doors plus the constant flickering of furniture could signify switching over to another world. Throughout the film, a dark, ominous presence calls to children, meeting them throughout the house and taking on the voices of their mother and father.
The director is consistently signalling to the audience that the entity can freeze time by pausing and unpausing the cartoon tape. Eventually, it indicates that the kids are trapped inside this entity’s realm and have been for hundreds of days. It appears that the entity has re-created their home in this realm.
Overall, Skinamarink seems to prey on childhood trauma and how we don’t quite clearly remember the whole past, just bits and pieces. The undertone also seems to hint at children of divorce reliving the pain of the night of their parent’s separation and their neglect.
Positives aside, I fell asleep three times trying to watch this movie. It’s very long and drawn out. That being said, I really wanted to finish it and kept picking back up where I left off. It’s actually really cool, and the director and cinematographer really seemed to have a clear concept of how they wanted to execute this movie. The film’s ending leaves you asking a million questions, although I have some pretty concrete theories. I’d rate this movie a solid 8 just based on my desire to keep watching it and how uncomfortable it made me feel.
Director: Kyle Edward Ball
Screenplay: Kyle Edward Ball
Cinematography: Jamie McRae
Starring: Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Jaime Hall, Ross Paul
Production Company: IFC Films, Shudder, Bayview Entertainment
Release Date: January 13, 2023 (US)
Run Time: 1h 40m
AJ Diaferio is best known as the frontman for the hard rock band. We’re Wolves. After garnering interest from millions of fans with their renditions of beloved active rock tracks, the group created their niche within heavy music with their debut album, Evil Things. Aside from being the band’s fearless leader, AJ is a self-proclaimed horror enthusiast and movie memorabilia collector. Diaferio’s fiery passion for movies and music are intertwined in every aspect of his work, making him a prime source for the latest in all things horror.