Fear of the Dark
Skinamarink could be either terrifying or frustrating
Independent horror films have always been at the forefront of new and fascinating cinematic languages. It doesn't seem like it in retrospect, but films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Blair Witch Project presented their stories in a daring, almost experimental manner which helped make the terror even more impactful. This is doubly true for Kyle Edward Ball's unexpected hit Skinamarink, which came to Shudder after a limited theatrical run. The film looks and sounds unlike any other film ever made and that can either make the story unbearably disturbing (as it was for this writer) or leave audiences annoyed or bored.
After their father goes missing, two children find themselves trapped in the house when a mysterious entity causes all windows and doors to disappear. With a television playing an endless stream of cartoons as their only companion, these children must endure the torments of an unseen force from which they can't escape.
Very light on plot with minimal whispered dialogue (subtitles are needed throughout), the film is less concerned with story and more with mood and atmosphere. This could create an unending sense of dread or be a source of irritation depending on the audience's own experiences. There is a definite theme of abuse and neglect running through the film that may be too much for some viewers. A film like this serves as a kind of cinematic Rorschach test. I can't begrudge anyone who has no patience for it, but if you can relate to the pure terror of being a child and waking up to go to the bathroom at 3 a.m., this one might be for you.
Written and directed by Kyle Edward Ball // Starring: Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Rosa Paul, and Jaime Hill // 100 minutes // Shudder // Not Rated