Reviews: Experimental Horror SKINAMARINK Is Hypnotic & Mesmerising

3 out of 5 stars

Canadian writer-director Kyle Edward Ball makes his feature directorial debut with Skinamarink, a bold experimental horror film. A slowly paced mood piece, Skinamarink is a crowdfunded feature, shot on a budget of just $15,000 that went on to make over $2 million at the U.S. box office. It’s an intriguing slice of genre cinema – one which is likely to have as many detractors as it will admirers.

Set in 1995, Skinamarink sees four-year-old Kevin (Lucas Paul) and six-year-old sister Kaylee (Dali Rose Tetreault) waking in the middle of the night to find their father missing from their home. The windows and doors suddenly vanish and they soon realise that they’re not alone – and that there’s an ominous presence in the house that wants their attention. Things go bump in the night. 

An excellent execution in shot selection and editing, Skinamarink is made up of grainy visuals and eerie sound effects, They’re assembled to create a narrative which is as ethereal as the film’s paranormal entity. It’s a film about childhood nightmares, the fear of the dark and monsters under the bed. It’s like someone took Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist, Mike Flanagan’s debut feature Absentia and Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook and fed them into a Kuleshov effect-maker to create a movie which is more of a sensory experience than a narrative feature. You could rightly argue that there’s probably not enough story to warrant its luxurious 1 hour and 40-minute running, but there’s craft on display here and that helps Skinamarink overcome its somewhat repetitive nature. 

Hit or miss depending on your disposition, there’s something hypnotically mesmerising about Skinamarink and it shows that Kyle Edward Ball has what it takes to be a filmmaker to watch out for in the future. 

Blu-ray Special Features

The Blu-ray of Skinamarink comes with a laidback and informative commentary from writer-director Kyle Edward Bell and Director of Photography Jamie McRae. It’s worth a listen to get the lowdown on the filmmaking process and it’s nice to see that they’re willing to point out their flaws and the film’s happy accidents.