Skinamarink has an interesting concept, but its incomprehensible story is not helped by the movie’s glacial pace.
Plot: Two children find their father missing and a strange intruder in their house.
Review: I haven’t watched Kyle Edward Ball’s Bitesized Nightmares YouTube channel, but I’m intrigued by the concept. For those who don’t know, Ball invited viewers to post comments about their nightmares and then would film them. Skinamarink is a cumulative effort around central themes of those nightmares, mainly being alone in the house with a monster.
The movie was mainly crowdfunded, and the budget totalled $15,000, so you know this isn’t going to be an effects extravaganza. However, this type of story doesn’t require a big budget, so in the hands of a skilled filmmaker, this may have been a little gem.
I will give the filmmakers an A for effort, and conceptually, there’s a lot to like. The ethereal, dream-like way the movie plays out, the weird audio, the odd, grainy quality of the video that will surprisingly sharpen at various points, I think the thought was there. This is a full-length feature about nightmares, and as we all know, nightmares don’t make sense, so we shouldn’t expect this movie to. So, if anyone messages me and says, “You don’t get what they were going for here,” I can assure you, I do.
Film is supposed to have rhythm, and this movie has none. I think that’s on purpose. However, you’ll lose the audience when you pair an incomprehensible storyline with a shooting style consisting of long shots into grainy darkness. Unfortunately, that’s what happened here. The storyline is bizarre. Things are disappearing, people are disappearing, people’s appendages are disappearing, everything is disappearing. There’s some weird monster in the house. Where is the house? This planet, another? Who knows. It’s left to the audience, and that’s okay, but there’s one fundamental problem with the film that destroys the entire exercise.
The pacing. I have never seen a movie that moved this slowly. There’s no pacing. Zero. You don’t even see the characters except occasionally a pair of legs, a quick shot of a face in the dark, the back of someone’s head. There’s no connection with the children. It’s just all atmosphere. At some point, you don’t care anymore. This movie ran 100 minutes – honestly, it should have been a part of a V/H/S anthology movie. I think it would have worked if cut down to 30 minutes. But not 100. Good God, not 100. Shots of the ceiling, the corners, the floor, a million shots of a television playing public domain cartoons – it’s a slog. I kept with it to see if there would be a payoff at the end, but I should have known better. When do you ever have a payoff from a dream?
There’s no music, so I can’t comment on that aspect, but the audio is sometimes so bad that they insert subtitles, even though all the participants speak English. There’s so much whispering, you wonder if the whole thing is happening in a library. Again, I get it; they’re scared, but this is not A Quiet Place – people can raise their voices occasionally.
As for the scares, there are a couple of jump scares that, if you’re in a dark room with the screen as your only source of light, they’ll get you. I wasn’t in that situation, but I admit the movie was creepy in parts. The grainy nature of the video makes it seem that something is always moving on screen, even when clearly you know there isn’t.
The rating I’m giving this movie doesn’t wholly fit how I feel about it. I think with some refinement, there’s some good stuff here. However, I have to judge it by the medium it uses and at 100 minutes, the movie as produced doesn’t work. I can’t recommend it except for the very curious, but I will be interested if Kyle Edward Ball continues his career, and I’ll give his next effort a shot.