Release Date: 1/13/23 [Cinemas/Shudder]
Studio: IFC Midnight
"Two children wake up in the middle of the night to find their father is missing, and all the windows and doors in their home have vanished."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
Every so often, a film comes around that turns a genre on its head. Less than a month into 2023, Skinamarink appears to be that film – the one that will be making top ten horror lists come December. Director Kyle Ball has managed to pull off, on a shoe-string budget, what many directors fail to achieve with far more resources. He taps into a primal childhood fear that lives tucked away in the recesses of our brains. And he does it in a way that gnaws at you uncomfortably for hours after the film ends.
I consider myself pretty desensitized to horror. I’m not above playfully teasing my friends for being too scared to see the latest slasher flick. But Skinamarink got under my skin in a way no horror film has in my entire adult life. It conjured a visceral reaction in me so strong it was hard to fall asleep that night. Now that’s an achievement.
The plot is, on paper, pretty uneventful. Two children, Kevin and Kaylee, wake up to find their dad mysteriously missing – and the doors and windows in their house have vanished. They are trapped in a place that should be a safe haven, and their own home slowly becomes a house of horrors. A deeply evil entity acts as an unseen character, and appears to tamper with time, space, and even gravity. Toys float upwards, hanging menacingly from the ceiling. Even a disappearing and reappearing toilet (yes, you read that right) immerses you further into a state of deep, indescribable discontent.
Dialogue is few and far between, and much of it artfully muddied and hard to decipher. Though not much is spoken, the few words uttered are eerie enough to burrow uncomfortably into your bones. There’s a particular line of dialogue that is quite possibly the most disturbing thing I’ve ever heard in a feature film. Taken at face value, the film is about two children being held hostage and tormented by some sort of demonic spirit. But I happen to be of the camp that thinks there is much more going on that meets the eye. Without getting into spoiler territory, I believe the film to be an allegory for something even scarier than anything that goes bump in the night.
It’s an experimental movie to its core, and it most certainly won’t be for everyone. Mainstream horror fans will most likely hate it – but appreciators of arthouse cinema will find it intriguing in a can’t-look-away-from-it kind of way. As divisive as it is, Skinamarink is one that will be remembered.