Horror is unquestionably a genre going through something of a bumper time at the moment. With people seemingly only happy to venture to cinemas for event films the horror genre, in no small part thanks to genre dedicated channels like Shudder, is one often best enjoyed at home. Skinamarink is a clear example of this, a film that might struggle to find an audience in theatres but at home is likely to become something of a cult classic.
The premise is simple; two young children wake in the middle of the night to find their parents vanished and the doors and windows to their house gone. The execution is not so simple. What writer-director Kyle Edward Ball has created is something truely unique. As if Paranormal Activity had a love child with The Blair Witch Project and was directed by David Lynch. If that’s a hard concept to get your head around, welcome to Skinamarink.
The film is told from a non-specific viewpoint, a series of ‘90s cam-corders, some locked-off, some occasionally point-of-view all littered with enough digital-noise to make you second guess everything you’re seeing. This is low-fi, low-budget, horror that is both experimental and, without question, polarising. Many will get 15 minutes in and decide there is nothing to see here. Others will be transported to a nightmare, that strange place between sleep and wake.
Skinamarink is a film of endless wonder and rising dread. What minimal dialogue there is often goes unheard and only present due to sub-titles. But throughout it is that childhood sense of fear that your parents will suddenly disappear… or worse. Remember as a child when you’d lie in bed and be utterly convinced something lurked in the dark corner of your room? And, as time would go by it would change shape according to the shadows. That is the feeling Skinaramink conjures, the sense that your imagination is playing tricks on you, but that maybe it isn’t.
A harrowingly unique horror vision the likes of which you’re unlikely to have seen before or ever again, Skinarmarink will traumatise some and frustrate others. A true Marmite of a film but one that if you relax into it can be immersively hypnotic.