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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover



Starring: Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Ross Paul and Jaime Hill
Distributor: Acorn Media International
RRP: £19.99

5 036193 020698

Certificate: 15
Release Date: 03 July 2023

Acorn Media International releases the Shudder Original supernatural horror film Skinamarink on Blu-ray. It is the writing/directorial debut of Kyle Edward Ball, who utilises strange, mostly low camera angles to create a sense of claustrophobia, oppression, and unreality. Two young siblings, Kevin, and Kaylee wake in the middle of the night to discover their parents have vanished, along with all the doors and windows to the outside. In addition, dimensions change, and items disappear and reappear to a mysterious buzzing sound. The children use pillows and blankets to build a den in the living-room to avoid the terrifying upper rooms and play a video of old cartoons on the TV to create light and a distraction from the fear. When a muffled voice begins to give them instructions, Kaylee makes the mistake of refusing.

This is a movie which is significantly more interesting in retrospect. You can think about or discuss with others the origin of the entity and the possible meaning of certain events. All well and good. However, the director may have possessed a very low budget to play with but Kyle Edward Ball, in striving for atmosphere and fear of the unknown, has actually created a dullness which makes the 100-minute running time feel like twice as long. It’s primarily the cause of the ultra-low lighting which produces a fuzz tantamount to an nth-generation video recording – the purpose, no doubt, to make you look for something in the darkness. We are rewarded in this respect only once. Another factor that makes the film drag is the camera lingering for long seconds on a wall and other uninteresting locations. Lastly, there is nobody to connect with in the film. The children are unseen for the majority of the film; occasionally their legs are shown from a low angle, and only once or twice is Kevin seen briefly. There is very little dialogue: the children don’t sound distressed by anything that happens, and it comes as a relief when the entity finally speaks. You have to appreciate the originality but, as with Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project, the viewer isn’t rewarded for his/her marathon endurance.

Much about Skinamarink is left ambiguous. I positively gravitate towards this at the conclusion of a movie, but only if the rest of the feature makes some kind of sense. Some have suggested that Skinamarink (who is never named) is from a dimension who can control this one; a child finding eternal amusement by using these children as playthings. Others cite a demonic entity manipulating Kevin willingly into the darkness. I prefer the linked theories that, after Kevin falls down the stairs at the beginning, he imagines or dreams the whole thing in an unconscious state; or Kaylee pushes him down the stairs, claiming that Kevin was sleepwalking, and in doing so unwittingly attracts a demonic entity. It would also explain in this scenario why Kaylee is ultimately punished. The ‘572 Days’ pointer could be how long he has been in a coma for. Again, another valid outlook is that his mother has left his father and Kevin is emotionally and psychologically devastated to the point of losing touch with reality and harming himself. I’m certain every viewer will have their own explanation for the film’s situations, but it does prove one thing: as previously mentioned, the retrospective piecing-together of events is much more interesting than actually watching the movie.


Ty Power

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