With Skinamarink, writer/director Kyle Edward Ball becomes the latest filmmaker to break through to the mainstream with an experimental, no-budget scary movie that feels more like a collection of shots than a feature film. But, like The Blair Witch Project and its ilk, audiences and critics seem to eat up this homemade horror concoction, which became a viral sensation when a screener was pirated from a film fest.
The story, such as it is, centres on two little children who wake up late at night to discover their parents, their doors, and much of their plumbing have all disappeared. There's also a mysterious presence they can sense. This is all conveyed via whispering and via barely visible grainy images shot on video and treated to look like it has been transferred to film with the exposure levels pushed to maximum in the process. Why the movie has this visual aesthetic is unclear—other than it looks cool, I guess, like old found-footage (we're told at the beginning that these events took place in the mid-90s). But the film seems to be told from the POV of the young boy, and he's not using a video camera. Is the footage all downloaded from his mind? I don't get it.
Of course, this is not a movie to "get," this is a movie to sit back and experience. It is probably ideally consumed late at night after ingesting some recreational pharmaceuticals that will enable your mind to be open to the possibilities of what all this could mean. My ADD brain, however, could not stay focused. I found the film far more tedious than scary. And at 100 minutes the picture feels interminable. This would have been far more effective as either a short or an art installation that goes on for hours and you can stay inside looking at it for as long as it intrigues you.
The basic premise and Ball's use of a TV set to illuminate much of what we see made me spend most of the time thinking about Poltergeist and how much I wished I was watching that movie instead.
Kyle Edward Ball's experimental, no-budget "scary movie" about two kids who wake up late at night to discover everything in their house all disappeared was a viral sensation, but would have played better as a multi-hour art installation.