Close this search box.

Skinamarink: Film Review

Skinamarink is a unique horror movie that makes the most of atmosphere and tension to throw the audience into this disturbing supernatural experience.

With his atmospheric horror spectacle Skinamarink, director Kyle Edward Ball has crafted a fascinating experiment of form that pushes the boundaries of what a horror movie can be, refusing to conform to what audiences expect from these kinds of stories. The horror genre has always been characterized by its attempts to subvert tradition and try new things, which has resulted in several iconic pieces over the years (think Saw or The Blair Witch Project) that essentially created entirely new subgenres within the world of horror – and Skinamarink feels like the latest project to create something genuinely new with its experimental style.

Ball’s movie follows two young children who are left completely alone in their home when their parents disappear in the middle of the night, with nothing but the mysterious voice of an unseen creature to keep them company. It’s a typical supernatural horror in this sense, with a story that’s reminiscent of projects like Paranormal Activity or The Conjuring, but where Skinamarink breaks the mould is through its fascinating directorial style, which keeps the action of the story constantly just outside of the frame. The entire film is just extended shots of walls of flickering screens, leaving everything to the audience’s imagination as they’re forced to use the sound and context to figure out what’s happening behind the camera. It’s an entirely new type of filmmaking, and while Ball doesn’t quite master the technique in this project, it’s always fascinating to watch.

While Skinamarink does have flaws that prevent it from being as engaging as it could’ve been, it excels in the one area that all horror movies strive for: frightening the audience. It’s a genuinely terrifying story at times, and the way Ball keeps his camera distanced from the action is absolutely chilling. You can almost feel this unknown creature behind you, just out of sight, and it makes those quiet moments infinitely more frightening than they would’ve been if the threat was openly on-screen. It’s in these moments that Skinamarink justifies its unconventional style, with certain scenes (including one where a character simply looks under a bed) feeling absolutely terrifying because things just are just slightly distorted and wrong. It’s one of the year’s scariest films, and that’s no easy feat when the majority of the runtime is spent filming inanimate objects.

loud and clear reviews Skinamarink film movie 2023 shudder
Skinamarink (Shudder)

But Skinamarink isn’t without its criticisms, and there are certain problems that unfortunately drag the project down a little. Firstly, while the abstract style is great for building tension and making those scary moments even scarier, the fact that we never actually see these characters makes it almost impossible to care about them. The film is so distant from its narrative that sometimes, despite how much Ball consistently raises the stakes and makes things interesting, it’s just too difficult to fully immerse yourself in the story. While part of this effect was clearly intentional, he goes a little too far and almost gives the audience a reason to clock out and lose interest. Skinamarink has discovered something innovative with its unique style, but it almost forgets that technical prowess isn’t enough to lead an entire film.

The film also has a very, very slow pace and a pretty lengthy runtime that certainly doesn’t help this problem, so it’s easy to understand why so many audiences have labelled the project ‘boring’ and ‘dull’. While it’s certainly not this simple, and the film’s creativity is almost enough to compel me to shut down these criticisms, they’re rooted in the truth. Watching the same shots for 100 minutes is always going to inspire some level of boredom, and that’s a problem that Skinamarink never manages to overcome. No matter how technically impressive the film is, and how confidently it pushes the boundaries of the genre, if the story isn’t enough to keep audiences engaged then it’s failing its most important task as a piece of entertainment.

Overall, Skinamarink is the kind of film that has to be seen simply to understand the impact that it’s inevitably going to have over the horror genre. It’s not perfect, and it definitely hasn’t reached its full potential yet, but in the years to come, it’s undoubtedly going to be cited as a huge source of inspiration for several popular filmmakers. There’s a five-star concept hidden within Skinamarink, but it’s not quite refined enough to shine that bright.

Skinamarink is now available to watch globally on Shudder and on demand. The film will be released on Blu-ray, DVD and digital in the UK on July 3, 2023.

Skinamarink: Trailer (Shudder)
Thank you for reading us! If you’d like to help us continue to bring you our coverage of films and TV and keep the site completely free for everyone, please consider a donation.