REVIEW: Skinamarink


We’re immersed in wormy, swimmy static; an impenetrable, buzzy, blue-brown alphabet soup of meaningless hieroglyphics. It obscures the depths of already-darkened rooms, masking spaces where monsters might hide.

An experimental horror rom first-time director Kyle Edward Ball, Skinamarink is a film of perception, or imperception. It’s the closest I’ve seen the horror genre come to slow cinema. No surprise Ball lists Chantal Akerman, whose film Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, currently tops Sights & Sound‘s Top 100, as among his influences.

Four-year-old Kevin (Lucas Paul) and his six-year-old sister Kaylee (Dali Rose Tetreault) our are ostensible protagonists; awakening in the middle of the night to discover that their father has vanished, along with most of the objects in the house, the doors, and the windows. I say, ostensible, as they spend most of the film’s runtime offscreen.

With its simple premise and obscure details – long takes of liminal spaces, stationary Lego constructions, one of the few sources of color in the film, or old, black-&-white cartoons, first comforting, later creepy – Skinamarink feels like a Reddit creepypasta story drawn out to feature length, or perhaps a click-based videogame, an impressionistic Poltergeist on ketamine.

Geography is fragmented; dialogue scarce and distorted; scares are few but impactful. You may find yourself dozing, unable to remain focused, or staring resolutely into the staticky shadows in dread – I did both a different points. The cinema crowd I saw it with were quiet, possibly riveted. The jump scares were met with nervous laughter. Punters bailed intermittently, having to make their way through the packed-out screening. Despite its domestic setting, I can’t imagine seeing Skinamarink at home: the spell it cast – or failed to cast – seems largely to depend on a captive audience.

The film is due on Shudder later in the year. I’d suggest prepping snacks.

Author: robertmwallis

Graduate of Royal Holloway and the London Film School. Founder of Of All The Film Sites; formerly Of All The Film Blogs. Formerly Film & TV Editor of The Metropolist and Official Sidekick at A Place to Hang Your Cape. Co-host of The Movie RobCast podcast (formerly Electric Shadows) and member of the Online Film Critics Society.

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