Review: Skinamarink- an experimental masterpiece

A scene of one of the main characters, Kevin, from the movie Skinamarink.

Photo Credit: Skinamarink, Director Kyle Edward Ball

A scene of one of the main characters, Kevin, from the movie Skinamarink.

Skinamarink is an underrated film that spread rapidly across the internet with its experimental way of filming horror. Many have said it’s the most terrifying movie they’ve ever seen, but what exactly is it that makes people see it this way? Small spoilers ahead!

What is Skinamarink?

The story focuses on the brother and sister duo, Kaylee and Kevin, who are two helpless children who wake up in their home to find that their father has gone missing and is nowhere to be found. Soon they realize, they are not alone, an entity lurks in the house, tormenting them with illusions and sounds. As time goes on, the windows, doors, and any connections to the outside world, begin to vanish. This space which is supposed to be a place of comfort for these kids turns into a living nightmare.

What type of horror is Skinamarink?

The movie uses a sub-genre of horror called Analog horror. Analog horror is a type of horror that typically takes place between the 1960s and the 1990s, giving off a nostalgic feeling to its visuals, but unsettles you with cryptic messages and disturbing imagery, it always leaves you wondering what will happen next. The beauty of it is it lets your mind leave things up to interpretation, nothing is ever truly “set up” for a jumpscare, and you’re left in the dark with nothing to scare you but your own mind.

Why do we feel unsettled by this?

What feels so helpless about this situation is that Kaylee and Kevin don’t panic, they have no “natural” reaction to anything happening. Seeing the windows disappear, doesn’t stir any real fear in them, they just calmly ask, “Where did it go?” If it were adults in this situation, they would rush to find a quick way out of this unusual and anxiety-inducing situation; but Kevin and Kaylee are rarely alarmed, they’re content with having comfort in each other’s presence. It’s only when they are away from each other, is when they start to feel true fear. If they’re not near the person they hold near and dear to their heart, they feel powerless.

How do the characters react to their environment?

Throughout the film, Kaylee and Kevin whisper to each other as if they’re doing so not to wake anyone in the house. This can lead to a subconscious feeling we have, when it’s dark, and you’re in a house full of people, you whisper so that you don’t wake anyone up. The big thing about this is that since all the doors and windows have been removed from the house, we have no real way of telling what time of day it is, even more broadly, finding out how long it has been since this situation started to occur.

What is the purpose of the cinematography in this film?

When the movie takes these uncomfortably long shots of dark, empty hallways, or even of just the static of a tv screen, it builds tension for the viewer. The camera angles are very interesting, typically near the ground and looking upwards from that point. This gives us the feeling of being vulnerable, much like a child, or more specifically, like Kaylee and Kevin. We see the world from their view, which immerses us more in this story, and gives us that greater feeling of terror. In typical horror movie fashion, viewers expect something to jump out and scare them, but Skinamarink doesn’t do that here, it wants you to expect the unexpected, although you can’t see it, you know something is there, watching silently. This is the entity’s goal, to make sure Kaylee and Kevin know it’s there with them. But throughout the film, we notice that its true form is never revealed to the viewer, it only forms illusions of familiar faces to Kaylee and Kevin, for example, their mom.

Not seeing the entity, leaves up interpretation to the viewer as to what it looks like. Having that creative freedom for yourself can lead your mind to conjure things to scare or comfort you. As mentioned earlier, this is one of the key traits of Analog horror, the viewers are given freedom from the creators to scare themselves more into expecting the worst.

I love seeing people admire the shock factor that this movie provides. If you have not yet seen Skinamarink, I highly recommend it, it’s an interesting watch and leaves you on the edge of your seat, it definitely changes the game of the horror industry that we know today.