OPINION: ‘Skinamarink’ offers a look back into your worst nightmares

Courtesy photo of Shudder

Courtesy photo of Shudder

Constant hellscape is the only way to describe the 100-minute test of strength and purveyor of terror that is “Skinamarink.”

On first appearances, director Kyle Edward Ball seems to have fallen in the trap of nostalgia-flooded horror. However, “Skinamarink” slowly proves itself as a manifestation of the worst things that could happen to a kid.

And I don’t use the word “slowly” with hesitation. I have a complex relationship with the pacing and run time of this film. It is filled with the kind of terror that I desperately wanted to end, but I didn’t ever want to leave because the movie is so entrancing.

The lack of non-diegetic music tunes the brain into the environment and raises the stakes of every scene. Horror movies are generally known for their iconic soundtracks that work to add to the horror but also signals to the brain that it is just a movie. When I didn’t have that to rely on, the theater quickly turned into some diabolical enclosure.

“Skinamarink” looks at a brother and a sister who wake up one night to discover that their father is missing and all of the windows and doors in their house are gone. As time passes, more things begin to disappear and the children start to hear strange voices in the dark that beckon them upstairs.

Its lo-fi style helps the movie create its own monsters. The way the static swirls in the dark allows for the imagination to take over and constantly see figures that are never really there.

The film sets the mind back into a childhood nightmare. It is the closest I have seen to what a nightmare feels like where you let all expectations of reality go because you innately know that nothing can make sense and there is nothing you can do about it.

The only lighting in the film comes from the effect of the static and the glow of the television set that plays old cartoons on end. For most of the film, the camera is low to ground, always looking up and just keeping the subject out of frame.

Both of these effects add to a childlike confusion that I, as an adult, understand as a lapse in knowledge that needed to be filled. But, what works so well here is that the children in the story have no desire to figure anything out. Everything just happens to them.

“Skinamarink” requires both your full attention and an imagination that is firing on all cylinders. Your ability to give it both will severely impact whether or not you can enjoy this film.