Horror, by its very nature, is subjective. What might terrify or otherwise excite one person could be a total dud for another. Skinamarink is one of the most extreme stress tests of that principle. Taking place entirely in one house, the story deals with two scared kids who are trying to make sense of a macabre situation. It’s bound to be polarizing, especially since the point of view is with the kids (who are barely seen or named). That’s on top of everything else we already talked about!
Skinamarink relies heavily on first-time-viewing and some jump scares, much like other staple found footage flicks. Again, the kids are ostensibly alone, minus some strange appearances from their mother and father (who may or may not be there, or quite what they seem). It’s a fever dream of a film. Darkness and childlike wonder are the fuel for this fire, ensuring that your point of reference is just a few feet off the ground.
In that regard, it’s at least an interesting project, especially if you already have a penchant for found footage horror. Subtitles are used for extra effect here, conveying some messages from the kids or parental figures that are nearly inaudible. The camerawork is also slow and methodical, as is all the dialogue.
“Skinamarink is tailor-made for audience reactions to heighten the mood, and is best seen in a dark room for maximum effect.”
As Skinamarink charges on, more and more weird things happen. Close-up camera angles become more and more settling, and the whisper-quiet dialogue has a bigger effect on what the story is trying to convey. Doors and windows suddenly appear and disappear without notice (sometimes with a goofy sound effect), and old public domain cartoons play prominently in the background.
The entire thing is meant to invoke a sense of childlike wonder, while appealing to the parental instincts of the audience. It’s nerve-wracking to watch Skinamarink and try and make sense of anything, but most of all, you’re mainly worried about whether these kids are going to come out on the other side intact. From some angles, the experiment works.
Skinamarink is a weird film by design, and once you’ve squared up with the horror genre, the experimental horror angle, and the low budget wrapping paper: you might find yourself skipping it entirely. For the optimal viewing experience (which we did not get), you should probably watch this in a crowded theatre. Skinamarink is tailor-made for audience reactions to heighten the mood, and is best seen in a dark room for maximum effect. If you don’t want to deal with any of this homework, I can’t stress enough: skip it!