Childhood terror realized: Skinamarink executes analog horror


Jack Rogula, asst. opinions editor

The fears that haunt many throughout childhood can be a plague to an innocent mind. They mold us as we’re growing up, though something that once appeared to be horrifying can seem irrational later in life. Skinamarink, directed by Kyle Edward Ball, flips the irrational fears of childhood on their heads, bringing to life the tense and truly horrific emotion of actualized youthful fear.

The film takes place in one house—the childhood home of protagonists Kevin and Kaylee. After four-year-old Kevin is injured in a supposed sleepwalking accident, he and his sister wake up to find themselves alone in their home with all the windows and doors suspiciously vanished. As they tour their newly closed-off home, mysterious voices and objects reveal that a malevolent force is occupying it as well. As the children continue exploring, numerous remnants of their childhood become sources of fear, continually attacking and disorientating the two until their fragile reality shatters before their eyes.

Lighting is one of Skinamarink’s greatest strengths. Illumination is used scarcely, keeping the film generally dark and incredibly unnerving. Figures hiding in the shadows and eyes that illuminate out of the darkness are the film’s scariest images, sure to be burnt into viewers’ minds long after viewing. 

Cinematography is another area in which the film truly crafts its own feel. Tight, uneven, and uncomfortable angles reminiscent of an M.C. Escher painting gives the movie an incredibly claustrophobic feel, trapping the viewer in the house with the force terrorizing the children. The film also traps audiences in the “unknown” through its camera work—the being that is trapping the children in their waking nightmares isn’t shown, and is never explained. The audience is quite literally “kept in the dark” the whole time.

The pacing of the film is one area where it seemingly falls flat. It appears a bit unpolished at times, with some scenes dragging on endlessly whilst others rapidly pick up the pace with anxiety-inducing reveals. However, enduring the slow “filler” moments give way to spine-chilling shots and astonishingly tense scenes. 

The analog horror genre which Skinamarink falls into is a newfound mainstream genre that began on sites such as YouTube, and is now finding its way to the big screen. The slow pace, the surrealist feel, and a focus on horror being generated from the unknown are all markers of the genre, and Skinamarink seems to be its main pioneer.

Surreal is the best way to describe Skinamarink—it can be hard to grasp at times, but its ambiguity is part of what makes it so unique and captivating. For horror fans, it’s definitely a must-see. For those who are looking for a good scare, or a movie to feel deeply unnerved by, you’ll most definitely find it here. 

Skinamarink is now streaming on Shudder and Amazon Prime, and is worth the watch.