Two young children are alone in their house with a fearsome entity in Skinamarink. Kevin (Lucas Paul) and Kaylee (Dali Rose Tetreault) wake up in their home at night to find their mom (Jaime Hill) and dad (Ross Paul) have gone missing. The children also find that all the windows and doors of the house have disappeared. Kevin and Kaylee then hear the voice in the dark of some entity that toys with the kids throughout the night.
Skinamarink is the debut feature film from writer/director Kyle Edward Ball. It should also be noted that it has nothing to do with the popular song of the same name by Canadian children's entertainers Sharon, Lois, and Bram. Shot on a budget of only $15,000, the film is told from the point of 4-year-old Kevin and his 6-year-old sister Kaylee. The film does not feature a conventional film narrative, instead focusing on the often subtitled reactions of the children to what is happening in the house. It soon turns out that an unknown malevolent presence in the house begins telling the children to do horrible things.
My Thoughts on Skinamarink
As Skinamarink is a very experimental film with no real narrative, the presentation of the film is definitely not for everyone. The child protagonists are only seen in brief glimpses, with the bulk of the film shot from their literal point of view. While Skinamarink does have some terrifying moments, many viewers might find this 100-minute film to be quite dull for much of the running time, especially since the film looks likely a poorly shot home movie with barely audible dialogue that requires subtitles.
Similarly to The Blair Witch Project, most of the tension in Skinamarink comes from the power of suggestion. This includes an almost perfect final shot of the film, featuring a very ambiguous blurry figure that may or may not be the entity that has been communicating with the children throughout the film. Aside from about three sudden jump scares, Skinamarink is often a tranquil film, often lingering on static shots, featuring a very hypnotic graininess, contrasted with television shots of old 1950s cartoons.
Sadly, much of the infamy of Skinamarink stems from how a technical error during one of the film's digital festival screenings resulted in the film being leaked online and going viral on YouTube and TikTok. Ironically, this resulted in Skinamarink being the latest recipient of the “scariest movie ever” hyperbole, previously given to films such as The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. A film that actually popped into my mind while watching Skinamarink, due to both films having young children as protagonists, is Seth A. Smith's 2017 horror film The Crescent. In fact, The Crescent is a film that I would probably recommend instead of Skinamarink.
Ultimately, while certain scenes result in Skinamarink living up to its hype, it is a very jarring experimental haunted house film that is not really for causal viewing.