Home Entertainment Shudder Secrets: Skinamarink and Slow Cinema

Shudder Secrets: Skinamarink and Slow Cinema

by Ana Lopez
0 comment

I’m having a hard time finding a recent horror movie as conversation-starting as Skin amarink. The shiver original has generated countless TikTok and YouTube videos, especially after the leak at Fantasia Fest last year. Like The Blair Witch Project, Skin amarink has built its following, namely through word of mouth and the internet. It is even mentioned “of this generation” Blair Witch project.

I remember seeing The Blair Witch Project in 1999 in theaters with my sister. While the movie didn’t upset me at first, it did when I got home. The sights and sounds played out in my head, especially that last shot where Heather (Heather Donahue) finds Mike (Michael Williams) facing the wall. although Skin amarink didn’t scare me as much as the found footage classic, the images, grainy aesthetics and unsettling audio stayed with me after the first viewing. It’s a disorienting experience, a mix of childhood fears slowly unfolding. Part of the film’s effectiveness (at least for some) is the way it appeals to Freud’s theory of the uncanny. Its slow cinema techniques turn familiar childhood images into nightmares.

Skinamarink’s Origins and the Internet as co-director

Like The Blair Witch Project, Skinamarink was filmed with little to no budget. Depending on which article you read, the feature will cost anywhere from $15 to 19,000. Director Kyle Edward Ball probably saved a ton of money because he filmed it in his childhood home. In fact, some of the toys that were projected in the shadows or filmed from awkward angles date back to his childhood.

In an interview with Roger Ebert. com, Ball says he asked Reddit users to share their childhood nightmares. He also created a YouTube channel, Biting nightmares, which recreated some of those nightmares. Ball says he started noticing patterns related to separation anxiety. Skin amarink was then an extension of a short ball uploaded to YouTube, Damn. In some ways, I think the short is more effective because it includes a lot of what the feature does well, without too many drawn-out shots that bloat the runtime.

Ball adds that the Internet was essentially his co-director, which may be why Gen Z has clung to this film and why it resonates with them. Not only does the film play on childhood fears and nostalgia through its old cartoons and creepier toys than they should be, but it spread on social media well before its limited theatrical release and became a conversation in itself. For people who have seen the movie, it’s one of the scariest movies they’ve seen or one of the most frustrating.

Despite the mixed reception, it has been a viral sensation, powered by social media. This shows how The Blair Witch Project leveraged the early days of the internet to generate a viral marketing campaign. This included a website with photos of missing persons. This feature feels like a cursed video that has crept into the realm of TikTok and other online media.

Skinamarink, childhood fears and the creepy

Skin amarink has no clear plot. Two children, Kevin (Lucas Paul) and Kaylee (Dali Rose Tetreault), wake up to find their father missing. Not only that, but all the doors and windows in their house are sealed. In one of the strangest moments, even a toilet disappears.

If I can advise people on watching this, it’s just to surrender to the experience and the dream logic of the movie. Ball never shows the children’s faces. Instead, viewers usually see the back of their heads or their feet shuffling across carpeted rooms. We see the side of Kevin’s face during a truly unnerving moment, but that’s it. The camera never moves beyond a child’s height, so even a doorknob seems hard to reach. This orients us to that world and a child’s perspective.

Childhood images populate the feature, including the flickering glow of a TV, a bowl of cereal, and public domain cartoons that are the film’s one and only soundtrack. Voices initially seem as if they are far away, coming from another room, until suddenly they are not. There is also a constant static crackling sound. All this creates a feeling of fear and unease.

Fear of losing a parent is the biggest fear here. Kevin and Kaylee often yell, “Mommy? Daddy?” They get no response. But there are other fears at play here as well. At one point, one of the kids says, “I don’t want to talk about Mom anymore.” While there isn’t enough narrative thread to say whether or not abuse occurred, a viewer can easily get that reading.

The house itself changes from something familiar to something monstrous. Legos suddenly litter a wall. Furniture appears on the ceiling. A demonic voice beckons the children upstairs. And somehow one of those old toy telephones and its yellow eyes becomes chillingly spooky in the dark. Freud’s theory of the creepy applies here. These childhood cues and images evoke memories and familiarity in us, but Ball makes them startling and strange through his strange camera angles and sound. Light switches go off. We have to wait for them to turn on again. Legos appear in one place and then suddenly in another. These familiar images feel threatening because of the way Ball films them and how long the camera hangs on them.

Dreams, a coma or hell?

There are a few theories about what the children are experiencing and why it is happening. Early in the run, Kevin’s father mentions that his son fell and hit his head. It’s possible Kevin got a concussion and is imagining all this, stuck in a strange loop and unable to wake up and return to reality. Another theory is that these kids are in hell. Damn is somewhat less clear. Even the amount of time the child is in it Damn has been there is noted by the number of counts.

There is a single number count in it Skin amarink that echoes Damn. This lends itself to the theory that these kids are indeed in hell or that Kevin is in a coma and unable to speak to his parents or sister.

However, I start from the idea that there is no clear definition of what exactly happens to the children. Instead, I suspect Ball wanted this to feel as much like a child’s nightmare as possible, specifically the fear of waking up in a darkened house and discovering your parents are gone. What’s scarier than that for a kid? Familiar images, such as a pile of Legos, become terrifying in a typical environment without parental protection.

Skinamarink and Slow Cinema

Credit goes to Jason Adams at Mashable for framing what I think of his film. He uses the term ‘slow cinema’ and applies it to Skinamarink. Adams describes slow cinema as “a cinematic languor that moves like molasses and envelops the viewer in an atmosphere and mood and a state of mind beyond our frantic daily rhythms.” He adds that the shots are long, uninterrupted, and characters are usually static or do very little within the frames. He points to David Lynch’s Domestic Empire and “Twin Peaks: The Return” as examples, as well as the 1975 movie Jeanne Dielman, Handelskaai 23, 1080 Brussels.

The thing is, with this kind of cinema, you have to give in to the experience without expecting a traditional narrative structure. Ball specifically needs time to establish the atmosphere until our sense of security dissolves. That’s why the camera lingers on the cartoons, or a door frame, or the carpet for so long. In the second half, these familiar images are turned upside down, so it’s unclear what we see and hear. It feels like the kids are in danger, especially Kevin.

Overall, I understand why this movie won’t be for everyone. It is an artful and highly experimental presentation of childhood fears. That said, I kept thinking about it. Skin amarink can have that effect. The visuals and the hiss and buzz of the audio feel disorienting. This film subverts childhood memories and images and makes them terrifying. Through its tricks and abstraction, Skin amarink captures the childhood fear of being alone in the dark, with a potential monster under the bed. Is there really something in the shadows? Check it out and judge for yourself.

If you want to be part of the conversation, check out Skin amarink when it lands shudder on February 2. For the latest on the streaming service’s latest content, follow my Shudder Secrets column.

Support us on Patreon for members-only content!

You may also like

About Us

Latest Articles