There has never been a horror film quite like Skinamarink before, and it should be considered required viewing for all fright-fare cinephiles. Director Kyle Edward Ball has crafted a mesmerizing work set in the dark of a nighttime home that finds two young siblings confronted by a chilling evil, with visual and aural approaches that make the proceedings all the more unsettling.
Directed by Kyle Edward Ball
Writer/director Kyle Edward Ball’s Canadian feature Skinamarink is an incredible, unique, artistic slice of cinema horror that is an absolutely hypnotic, eerie watch. It’s the type of film that glues viewers to the screen, and it does so for two main reasons: You never know quite what might happen next, and you might miss some detail because the proceedings are seemingly just out of view in multiple ways. The film taps into childhood fears and the primal fear of the dark that will make different viewers shudder for different reasons.
Ball and cinematographer Jamie McRae use a visual style reminiscent of super 8 film and give Skinamarink a dark, visually noisy feel, shooting from unusual angles and mostly giving viewers only hints of people — or something resembling people? — as two very young children wander through their home. At first, they are trying to locate their parents, but as old cartoons on the family television flicker and repeat scenes, it becomes obvious that something else is in their house, and it has decidedly evil intentions.
Familiar household objects disappear, move around, and take on diabolical qualities. If you think this sounds like the film deals in the usual supernatural tropes, you would be wrong, as the off-putting quality and surreal sense of sheer weirdness that Ball creates with Skinamarink puts the film in a class by itself. You have never seen a horror movie quite like this before, an original vision filled with dread, skin-crawling dialogue made even more impactful considering that much of the film is presented in highly uncomfortable silence or something close to it, and a constant sense of unease.
Skinamarink will send many viewers straight back to their childhood fears, when something scary is also a curiosity that begs further investigation. For many parents, it will also work on a personal level that will make the safety of its young protagonists four-year-old Kevin (Lucas Paul) and his slightly older sister Kaylee (Dali Rose Tetreault) a heart-thumping ordeal.
Skinamarink is not for everyone, and may wind up as one of the more divisive fear-fare offerings of the year, but it is the type of film that all horror film aficionados should watch to see where it falls with them. For this reviewer, it has blown away many competitors and instantly cemented a place on my list of top 10 horror films of 2022.
Review by Joseph Perry
Skinamarink screens as part of Fantasia, which takes place in Montreal from July 14–August 3, 2022. For more information, visithttps://fantasiafestival.com/en/.