Review: Skinamarink

If the name isn’t odd enough for you, this films production and presentation will certainly seal the deal.

‘Skinamarink’ is an experimental horror movie by Kyle Edward Ball which sees two young children trapped alone in a house, tormented by a demonic voice, searching for their missing father. The house itself is ever changing, with it’s content vanishing and at times even it’s structure moving around. The children are both frightened and instructed by a malevolent voice, yet all the whilst tormented by visions of their family members – it would all be very typical, if not for the way the movie is filmed, and its exposition delivered.

I opened with stating that this is an experimental movie and whilst I accept that the moniker can relate to a very broad spectrum of artistic presentations in the case of ‘Skinamarink’ it blends a dizzying mixture of abstract imagery, use of brash and obscure sounds to create a disorienting blend of cinema which is something of a assault on the senses; hell, even the dialogue is delivered in a unconventional way, with whispered phrases, distorted growls and even subtitled sections all delivering equally cryptic narrative.

Its hard to explain the concept with words really, and perhaps the trailer would be a good place to look for context, but ultimately the camera relies on several minutes of fixed position shots, lit naturally by things like off scene lamps or TV static. The lens lingers on walls, bottoms of stairs, closed doors; visually its certainly more stylistically interesting than what is shown; almost the entire movie is filmed using fixed camera angles.

The film follows the experiences of the aforementioned children and I guess its supposed to demonstrate the vulnerable perspective of the kids, with the equally distorted reality of their lack of comprehension from both their situation and context.

The sound design would equally support this, as whilst certain sounds are recognisable, not everything is as easy to pick out with the noises in the dark leaving a lot to the imagination. The whole film doesn’t give much away from that perspective, and it relies heavily on the audience engaging with its senses rather than its narrative, exposition, or well anything else really.

If I was to support the film, I’d say it makes for a really unique and interesting experience – and as abstract as the movie was, its wasn’t beyond comprehension as to what it was trying to achieve. Lock yourself in a dark room, in an unknown location and crank up the volume and then watching this movie would probably be akin to a really bad trip.

However, if I was to be critical, I’d say I got it, but it didn’t really get me.

I would preface my criticism by saying that I just don’t have much of an imagination I’m afraid, and whilst I really enjoyed how different the movies presentation was, it didn’t change much about its experience through its runtime, so whilst I certainly found it more than a little un-nerving, I did struggle though its run-time, as a compact half-hour salvo I think I would have found it’s disorientation a little more impacting.

From the trailer I thought its lo-fi methods of filming were a stylistic choice, but what you see there is exactly what your getting, but 100 minutes work, over 2.

I can see this movie being seriously polarizing in its reception, and I will also say that I’d consider it somewhat triggering to anyone with any type of childhood trauma, as it plays very heavily into the child fears and psyche – and I mean that as a compliment, very few movies will come anywhere close to invoking such as response. Again, however, it didn’t really resonate like that for me.

So as far as a it being a movie for the masses, well likely not, but then again, there are plenty of those movies to check out too. Overall ‘Skinamarink’ is a film defined by its artistic style and direction. Its definitely more of an experience than it is a piece of cinema. Check out the trailer, you might just have found yourself a movie you never knew you needed, or then again…

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