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The Terror Comeback

The Terror Comeback: ‘Skinamarink’ (2022)

Skinamarink”: Delve into a Childhood Nightmare That Will Haunt Your Thoughts for Days.

Skinamarink review
BayView Entertainment / IFC Midnight / Shudder

In this column, Zofia Wijaszka reviews forgotten, underrated, and “always worth talking” horror films that deserve a new audience’s attention and post-watch conversation. The Terror Comeback’s goal is to celebrate the horror genre, both genre in the cinema and on television.

“Skinamarink” Review: A Peculiar and Effective Found-Footage Horror Reflecting on Childhood Nightmares

Skinamarink review
BayView Entertainment / IFC Midnight / Shudder

I recall one time when I was on vacation with my family and their friends—our parents went to college together, so my sister and I spent a lot of time with their son. I’ll never forget the windy night when a friend woke us up and told us all of our parents are gone. Everything around us was dark blue and gloomy. Our parents discovered us moments later, crying and embracing each other while sitting on the stairs. We now laugh about it, especially since they were next door, but Kyle Edward Ball’s Skinamarink brought back memories of that night. This independent, found-footage film utilizes peculiar camera angles and childhood fears to create an astonishing, unsettling, and thought-provoking horror. Despite the lack of dialogue for most of the film, this horror movie is utterly remarkable and one for the books.

Skinamarink follows two children, Kevin (Lucas Paul) and Kaylee (Dali Rose Tetreault), who wake up in the middle of the night to discover that their parents have gone missing and that all the windows and doors in their house have inexplicably vanished, locking the children alone within. As a coping mechanism for the strange conditions, the siblings bring pillows and blankets into the living room and throw a slumber party. To relieve anxiety and divert attention away from the disturbing and bizarre circumstances, they play well-worn cartoon videotapes, expecting that adults will come home later. However, it soon becomes clear that no one is coming, and that someone (or something) is keeping a watch on them in the dark house with no windows or doors.

Skinamarink - a couple of children sitting in a dark room watching television
BayView Entertainment / IFC Midnight / Shudder

Ball’s elevated horror isn’t for everybody. There are a lot of quiet moments and highly confusing ones; some perhaps would find Skinamarink tiresome and monotonous. But the enthusiasts of the genre and those who love the thrill of perplexing, peculiar cinema, will certainly love it. There is virtually no continuous plotline. Instead, the director focuses on shots of the apartment; television showing the cartoon, Kevin or Kaylee’s footsteps, or different parts of the house, with elements set upside-down. The situation the siblings find themselves in feels almost like an alternate universe. As the creators employ grainy filters as well as blue and pink hues, we can feel the atmosphere of confusion, dread, and threat seeping through the screen. For some unusual reason, these shots resonate with many of the viewers who felt odd yet disturbing nostalgia and a reminder of their own childhood nightmares.

Skinamarink review

Skinamarink review
BayView Entertainment / IFC Midnight / Shudder

Despite being an hour and forty minutes long and featuring almost no dialogue, the film remains intriguing and compelling throughout. There are a few jump scares, but the most disturbing parts involve static silence and a deep, demonic voice speaking to children. Skinamarink, with its evocative visuals directly from our childhood horror dreams, is a standout among successfully disturbing found-footage films. Ball sets the film in 1995 and perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere of homemade videos from the 90s, adding his own horror elements and story revolving around Kevin and Kaylee.

In some ways, it’s difficult to adequately describe what Skinamarink is about—it’s one of those films that you must experience for yourself to decide whether you like it or not. If you do, I guarantee you won’t stop thinking about it at least once a day; I know since I still do and dread having a dream about Ball’s film.

Grade: A-

Skinamarink is available to watch on Hulu.


Skinamarink

Skinamarink

Two children wake up in the middle of the night to find their father is missing, and all the windows and doors in their home have vanished.

Release Date: January 13, 2023

Director: Kyle Edward Ball

Cast: Lucas Paul , Dali Rose Tetreault , Ross Paul

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