Starting 2023 with Skinamarink

As some of you may know, I like to reserve my horror movies for the month of October. However, because I’m a sucker for the found footage genre, and January expectedly provides so little potential in theatrical selections, I had to give this critically acclaimed oddity a chance. I’m glad I did, and I’m grateful my wife let me sneak out of the house while the little ones went to bed. It was just me and twelve other patrons in front of the screen. By the end of the movie, only eight of us stayed through the end.

Skinamarink is an exercise in visual and audible interpretation, viewer patience, and miniscule revelations. More an implied found footage trope, it is as if a four-year-old found a circa-90s RCA camcorder and recorded every nook and cranny of the house, including ominous shots into dark hallways.

Newbie Writer/Director Kyle Edward Ball embraces negative space of sound in which socks on carpet and children whispers command the ears, while the “crunch” of LEGO blocks being thrown into a pile and evening cartoons invade them. (Because there are so many quiet, white noise sequences, every candy wrapper, popcorn bite, and self-conscious stomach churn could be heard in the theatre.)

Child-height images conjure memories of our homes at night when shadows moved and floorboards creaked.

For me, this is cinematic minimalism at its finest, stripped-down form. It is only a shame the movie includes four jump scares that come across more as gimmicks than opportunities for the imagination. Every held shot down a hallway or under a bed keeps you more in suspense than the cheap carnival sound effects that make you fully aware you are watching a movie and not something “found.”

On a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being the equivalent of watching paint dry and 10 being blasted into outer space, Skinamarink is a 2. Believe it or not, this is a compliment — at least for viewers like me who go for atmosphere before plot and image analysis before CGI intrusion.

Like grimy Begotten (1989) and eventless Vast of Night (2019), Skinamarink is devoid of any rewatch value but a compelling exercise nonetheless.

There’s that old saying, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Skinamarink asks the question: “Ever wonder what goes on downstairs in your house while you sleep at night?”

While some of us imagine the intriguing possibilities to these questions, others walk out of the movie theatre.

***1/2 out of *****

Happy 2023, thank you for reading, and please let me know if you’ve seen this one!

Reely Bernie

10 thoughts on “Starting 2023 with Skinamarink

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  1. I have read a couple of things about this film prior to landing here, and while I am not a big consumer of modern horror, a movie made in this day and age for this few bucks getting this much ink has got my attention as a homage to less-is-more. Mrs. Chess doesn’t go for this type of film so I’ll take one for the team when it becomes available. Glad you could get out to see it and share your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Less-is-more” is a good way to put it, and while we get bludgeoned with CGI in most mainstream action/horror “hits,” this one was refreshingly haunting, leaving your own mind to fill in the blanks, like you used to as a kid. I grow to admire it more and more with each passing day, but I also know many will not have the patience for it… Thanks for writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wait….you acted as if you enjoyed it…why the low score? I loved the Blair Witch Project also. Sometimes it’s what you don’t see more than what you see.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d say Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity deserve 5 stars for breaking ground on the found footage genre, but this guy was decent. The jump scares we’re forced and corny, but the overall experience was unique for me. Exactly: What you don’t see made this movie scary.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. My dad said he’d rather watch a shot down a hallway not knowing what’s going to happen than all the shock gore most horror movies throw at the screen without context. Bailey will like it. It’s a tough too long but very experimental and odd.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like an awful movie. Found footage can be really scary though. And something about it makes you want to keep watching even if you don’t like the genre. I remember watching a little of The Blair Witch Project when I was little. A lot of my friends believed it was real and that scared the crap out of me lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My brother and I saw Blair Witch the evening it premiered, and we ALL thought it was real! So fun and scary. This one is not everyone’s cup of tea for sure…However, I still keep thinking about it and can’t get it out of my head!

      Liked by 1 person

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