Skinamarink ★★★

Skinamarink has been making waves in the horror community for the past couple of months and captured my attention after I watched its brilliant trailer. Since then, I’d been eagerly anticipating what nightmare might await me, but also kept my expectations severely in check. I’ve heard everything from it being a groundbreaking masterpiece to it making audiences yawn as one of the most boring films of all time.

This is one of the few movies I can say I understand both sides of the spectrum. It’s obvious why people might hate the experimental nature of the nothingness going on, but the appeal is also as clear as day. I don’t think this is close to being one of the best movies ever made or even really enters the conversation for greatest horror films of all time, but there is admirable creativity on display that can be quite effective.

On the positive side, Skinamarink simply had me sweating for long sequences. The back half of the film as a whole had me ridiculously anxious, as I peered through my fingers and slumped in my chair. The director does a great job of building dread, and the minimalistic approach is something I learned to appreciate even if it doesn’t always work perfectly. However, Skinamarink also has a number of issues that hold it back from being a lot better.

To put it bluntly, the structure of this concept just doesn’t really work well in the context of a feature length film. The camera is constantly pointed towards angles, corners, ceilings, and floors, focused or zoomed in on these crevices. It does add an element of horror and tension, with its’ grainy atmosphere surrounding the unknown, but you just get bored after a while. My mind wandered and slipped away from the narrative more than a handful of times. It’s quite often repetitive, slow as hell, and way too long. I’m not sure how the editors thought 100 minutes for a movie implementing this kind of experimentation was a good idea. Cut out 20 minutes and I think this earns half a star.

The reason you can turn this into an 80 minute movie that easily is because there’s no characters to be attached to, no story, no background, or anything meaningful happening - the whole film is two kids you never actually see just walking around while the camera’s aimed into the corner lmao. A swifter runtime would make this a lot more pleasant and scarier. I had hopes this would emulate much of what made Paranormal Activity my favorite horror film of all time, but I think what separates them is that PA has those characters, has an actual story and plot-line, and always gives the impression that something is lurking around the door or is in your presence at all times. Skinamarink only ever feels like something’s there when it makes it obvious something’s happening, so the tension and buildup is never as hard-hitting.

Like I said, there’s no characters that you ever get to know in any way and you’re only given the most obscure bare-bones idea of a story to grasp onto. You never really know what the hell is going on and there’s not really any insight into it either, which makes the ending even worse because there’s no actual resolution or finale. A lot of horror movies do this, but because you don’t know what’s happening, the movie feels like it just stops - like it could’ve kept continuing because nothing was wrapped up, which provides an even better reason to have cut this film down significantly.

Also, yeah, when nothing continuously happens for a majority of the run time, masked in long periods of silence, unbelievably loud noises that come out of nowhere WILL make me flinch. I can’t say that didn’t fuck with me multiple times, but a jump scare’s still a jump scare and they were pretty insignificant and cheap. However, I still admire Skinamarink for what it is. I don’t think I really have any desire to watch it again, and I’m not sure it’s designed to be, but at the end of the day, it’s still very effective. Every little noise you hear in the middle of the night will creep you out because simply walking out of your room into the dark unknown of the house will bring you right back to that unnerving dread. The scariest way to watch this would be in your living room in the pitch black night, and I guarantee you’ll enjoy it even more. I think it has some great tension, sequences, and ideas, but it’s also just not the best movie because of the very nature of its’ concept (which is what makes it so cool too), yet if you’re a big time horror fan looking for something different and interesting, it’s certainly worth a try.

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