SKINAMARINK is simultaneously impressive, frightening, and intrusively slow. There hasn't been a more experimental horror film in a long time.
Like the recent TALK TO ME, SKINAMARINK originated from a YouTube channel. On “BitesizedNightmares“, Canadian fllmmaker Kyle Edward Ball filmed nightmares, his own and those of his viewers. SKINAMARINK became a hot topic on Reddit and other platforms when the complete film was leaked online before its official release and later became an unimaginable film success for an experimental film. It also became the most contentious horror film in a long time. The opinions about the film range from “the scariest film of all time“ to “as exciting as watching paint dry.“ The internet is full of explanations and interpretations of SKINAMARINK. The title is based on the children‘s song “Skidamarink a doo da doo, I love you“ and it‘s about children‘s fear of being home alone at night.
SKINAMARINK was made for 15,000 dollars, raised by crowdfunding, produced in Ball‘s parent‘s house, and largely consists of images of corners in the dark. The images were shot on digital, and the limited technical abilities in poor light conditions are used to full effect. Afterwards, filters were added to the images that simulated additional grain and analog material defects. The effect reawakens childhood memories, like how a mark on the ceiling can turn into a demonic face in the dark or a closet door can become a door to hell. Watching paint dry can be a very creative experience for a child, I looked for figures and patterns in woodchip wallpaper as a child. One stares similarly in this film, which also tells a story, even if children Kevin and Kaylee are rarely seen, and it‘s mostly just their feet scurrying along the carpet. Kevin fell down the stairs at night, the father says on the phone. Then the children wake up in the middle of night and the parents are gone. The doors and windows of the house also disappear. The children go to the living room and watch old cartoons – among them SOMEWHERE IN DREAMLAND (1936) by Max and Dave Fleischer – and become aware of a spectral power that seems to take control of them, demanding obedience and cruelly punishing them.
The soundtrack of the cartoons gives the film a timeless, hauntological effect. Hauntology is a term coined by cultural theorist Mark Fischer, who died in 2017, on his blog “k-punk.“ Fisher wrote that in around 2005 it became clear that electronic music couldn‘t transmit a vision of the future anymore like it did between the 60s and 90s.The electronic music of labels like “Ghost Box“ don‘t just conjure about the ghosts of the past, they represent a lost, unrealized future, a ghost of optimism. This ghost also haunts the sound and images of SKINAMARINK.
Ball‘s film is simultaneously impressive, frightening, and intrusively slow. It‘s a film in which the children are lost and trapped. There hasn't been a more experimental horror film in a long time, which is why some critics compared it to David Lynch‘s ERASERHEAD (1977) and the gothic film BEGOTTEN (1989). The two films have little to do with Ball‘s low-budget production, besides the fact that Ball approaches image and sound mixing in a similarly creative way as Lynch, and BEGOTTEN also works with grainy images. SKINAMARINK sticks in one‘s memory and touches on almost forgotten fears. It makes sense that the film has been released as a VHS. Maybe it‘s best to watch it in an empty cinema or alone in the dark apartment on an old, not quite intact video player.
Translation: Elinor Lewy
USA 2022, 100 min
Genre: Horror, Experimental film
Director: Kyle Edward Ball
Author: Kyle Edward Ball
DOP: Jamie McRae
Cast: Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Jaime Hill, Ross Paul
- OV Original version
- OmU Original with German subtitles
- OmeU Original with English subtitles
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