“Skinamarink” Review


Photo Courtesy of IFC Films and BayView Entertainment

“Skinamarink” is a 2023 experimental horror movie, using aspects of childhood fear while breaking new ground in the already-established genre of found footage horror. However, it potentially alienates viewers with its slow pacing and unconventional storytelling. “Skinamarink” was directed by Kyle Edward Ball and debuted on Jan. 13, 2023 to a limited release. The story features two children trapped in a house with no windows or exits with a seemingly omnipotent creature. The film takes place from the children’s perspective, using an old handheld camera. 

This particular aspect fits it into the genre of found footage. Found footage is a cinematic technique that utilizes a  handheld camera or a fixed perspective (like a security system). However, “Skinamarink” differs from this in that the camera is not tangible and serves as a vehicle for the perspective of the children. A handheld camera is supposed to be held and used by the character, allowing the audience to see through their eyes. A fixed camera is supposed to give the viewer a sense of all-seeing detachment and sometimes gives more information than the characters actually know. However, “Skinamarink” occupies a place beyond those roles. Skinamarink’s camera is always angled upwards, giving the perspective of the children. What distinguishes this from the fixed cameras in different movies is that the viewer is almost always given only the information the children have, shedding the universal association with the positioning. This conveys the terror and paralysis that many children feel when they have been left alone in the dark, focusing on doorways and hallways for minutes with nothing occurring.

The themes of “Skinamarink” are fundamentally different from the perspective of other found footage movies; other found footage movies have their characters stumble through the plot or actively search for conflict to show through the camera. “Skinamarink” strips this genre to its barebones. The appearance of the so-called Skinamarink is never revealed, unlike in other movies where the character will often sacrifice their life to capture a glimpse of the creature’s appearance. It leaves the viewer questioning the omnipotence of the creature. “Skinamarink” takes a more grounded perspective on this topic by showing that in such fantastical scenarios, the person behind the camera would be just as confused and terrified as a child. The omnipresent creature toying with the children wills away all exits, mirroring the wide array of plot devices to trap their protagonists in such terrible scenarios. 

The cinematography and slow pacing of the movie, although deepening the atmosphere, will drive away many. The movie uses long-still shots with occasional movement, lingering on hallways and doorways for minutes at a time. The duration of these can test the audience’s patience if they do not resonate with the movie’s themes. And so, because of its hyper-focused nature, it ultimately will leave many dissatisfied.