To begin, I don’t think it’s fair for me or anyone else to convince anyone to view or ignore this film. I’m basically doing it to explain my stance on review culture and to point/laugh at those who sniff their own farts in elevators. Sometimes, it’s okay to let them rip privately in a stairwell. Sure, it’s more work, and your legs will be screaming afterward, but you spared the hive your unwanted blast of last night’s Frito Chili Pie. They shall live to breathe another day.
In a world where a large chunk of the participants strives to be Siskel & Ebert rather than Stephen King, I couldn’t wait to see this film. I held off for a month after its release so the horror community had enough time to ingest it, crap it out, eat it again for the sake of popularity within their own imaginary cliques, and then wipe its smelly, greasy ass all over social media. This movie was everything I guessed it would be: an experiment.
The indie horror community sometimes forgets the definition of “indie”. Let me remind them.
Indie: aka independent: “not belonging to or affiliated with a major company.”
99% of horror genre contributors ARE indie – even though some of them are convinced they’re Poe rather than just plain old Po’ (that’s a southern term for broke lol) – but spend a large amount of time shitting on fellow indie contributors. Skinamarink IS the purest form of indie, yet other indie artists don’t recognize this due to the image they’re forced to portray on social media and the necessity to “belong”. Trust me, I stopped being in the “cool kid’s club” a couple of years ago. It’s liberating. How do you think mainstream readers reacted to Splatterpunk when it first arrived on the literary scene? It was exactly like this, but internet trolling had yet to be invented. Thank the powers that be for small miracles!
Here is the synopsis according to Wikipedia:
Skinamarink is a 2022 Canadian experimentalhorror film written and directed by Kyle Edward Ball in his feature directorial debut. The film follows two children who wake up during the night to discover that they cannot find their father, and that the windows, doors, and other objects in their house are disappearing.
Yes, this is an experimental film. The experiment? How to turn $15,000 into $2,000,000 (so far). Guess what? The experiment was a success, just like The Blair Witch Project twenty something years ago and the Paranormal Activity franchise a dozen years after that.
Like I said, I knew absolutely nothing about this movie other than the fact people on social media shit their breakfast all over it. That was enough inspiration for me to look forward to a viewing, especially since some of the most vocal in that community couldn’t write their way out of a wet paper sack. There’s only so much talented void you can fill with over the top gore and sex before the readers outside of your circle realize they’re following a dollar store version of AI software wrapped in a flesh, bone, and blood burrito. I’m not saying I’m a god, but at least I have the courage to admit I’ve written some less than stellar tales over the years. I’ll also go ahead and proclaim the fact I’m destined to write some pure crap in the future as well. Admitting your faults is the only way we truly grow as artists unless you’re just content with wallowing in the imaginary graces of mediocrity. You must open your mind to new experiences.
Skinamarink is pretty much shot from the point of view of the two children in the film. All the angles are low, bringing into focus their height and perception. It plays heavily on your own repressed childhood fears of being alone and uninformed during precarious situations. The use of silence, shadows, and low-resolution darkness helps to realize these fears as the film progresses. There are some old cartoons playing in the background and those things are creepy AF anyway! I do want to give the filmmaker props for playing the cartoon used in the eighties Twilight Zone: The Movie rendition of the episode “It’s A Good Life”. It made me smile.
I was immediately brought back to a decade of watching hours of low-resolution video files of empty rooms during my paranormal investigation days. Digital matrixing plays tricks on your eyes and creates disbelief before you can even identify what you think you saw. Also, a few of the segments in Skinamarink remind me of EVP phenomenon. This film has been coined as “Analog Horror”. That’s a new one on me, but the category makes sense.
Do you remember your childhood fears? Of course you don’t, because you’ve spent most of your adult life repressing them and sugar coating your juvenile faults. So put all that aside for a second and hear me out.
Put yourself back into the mindset of a four-year-old. Do you remember coming away from the television to find your parents missing? Not necessarily missing, but you had no clue where they were. Do you remember the shadows playing tricks on you from darkened rooms? Do you remember features from toys or piles of clothes forming into monsters by the irrationalities of your young, impressionable mind? Obviously this director does. He even filmed this movie inside his childhood home, where many of his own fears developed. For all we know, we’re watching him confess his own childhood and the loudest among us won’t shut the fuck up long enough to accept it.
Modern horror relies so much now on “in your face” jump scares that audiences have forgotten the fear which comes along with the unknown: unidentifiable noises from the dark, shadows and lighting trickery, and your own brain running amok as you attempt to decipher what the hell you’re watching. The Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity franchises relied heavily on those things. They obviously worked because they’ve made millions of dollars from horror fans. Sure, people in the industry back then tried to convince the masses they were watching artsy fartsy crap and to avoid it at all costs, but social media wasn’t a luxurious way to preach to the sheeple back then. We were allowed to make up our own minds and, low and behold, we actually enjoyed it. At least when the simpletons among us shut their mouths long enough for us to do so.
Is Skinamarink a good horror film?
No. A film grades its success on audience interpretations rather than how an individual perceives the content. This film solely depends on that individual perception and will split the audience right down the middle. Some will say it scared the shit out of them, while others will say it was the dumbest thing they’ve ever watched. That’s ok, though. Why? Because art is open to individual interpretation. This film is DEFINITELY an art film. Most authors forget we’re creating “art” because they’re so hell bent on obtaining pop culture status or being Tik Tok famous. It’s a sad, sad world we live in.
So, is Skinamarink good art? Yes! The film is open to individual interpretation AND people – whether they liked it or not – won’t shut up about it! Have you ever visited a Hollywood or Manhattan contemporary art museum or gallery? There are entire spaces dedicated to “Creepy Pasta” style clips and collectors pay millions of dollars for a thumb drive and projector set up in their homes. I spent over a decade of my life in the fine art industry and every second of Skinamarink reminded me of a good day working in a Chelsea art gallery, if the art gallery was playing off my childhood fears and sucking my will to live.
I would recommend this film to everyone and no one. I enjoyed it for what it was, but it may not be that same “thing” for you. That is the beauty of art. Open your mind a bit. Take a stroll in a sculpture garden, visit a natural history museum, or watch Skinamarink if you’re so inclined to do so. We don’t think you’re cooler because you hated it and vomited your toxic bile all over Facebook. We never really thought you were that cool to begin with!
$15 of that $2 million came from me. I truly support indie horror, even when it’s something that didn’t blow my mind. Who’s to say that the director’s next film won’t be the one to change the world? This is why I have bookshelves full of indie horror authors I never plan on reading. Support, encouragement, and the pride knowing I actually stand behind what most only pretend to do on “look at me” social media platforms. I SUPPORT INDIE ARTISTS.
I rate this film ? stars to give you a chance to make up your own mind. Do we still have one of those? Our “own” mind?
Don’t fear the experiment. We won’t tell your “fan club”.
Open your eyes. Fuck the hive. Create. Live.
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