Skinamarink (2023)

Director: Kyle Edward Ball

Running Time: 100 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Ross Paul, Jaime Hill

Crafting a nostalgic feel for his feature debut, writer/director Kyle Edward Ball utilizes a grainy visual style from the opening credits. Set during 1995, children Kevin (Lucas Paul) and Kaylee (Dali Rose Tetreault) awaken in the middle of the night to discover that their father is missing. They also notice that all of the windows and doors in their home have vanished.

Once welcoming surroundings feel warped by a sense of the uncanny, as what seemed familiar to the children now appears unrecognizable within the darkness. Viewers are made to observe the unfolding terrors through a child's perspective, something further emphasized as scenes appear to be filmed from the children's point-of-view. While they try finding comfort through familiar cartoons on the television, this does not last as shadowed figures and skipping music add to the unfolding fears.

Amidst this experimental work is a fascinating sense of mood, where the eerie imagery and sound design effectively cuts through the quiet darkness. Be it simple sounds or inhuman noises, there are unsettling elements to this slice of ASMR horror, particularly involving a hellish toy phone. Despite this, it can feel difficult to reach such effective moments when the patient pacing wears thin across the 100-minute runtime.

Considering how the quiet proceedings can test one's attention span, a more beneficial choice would have been to cut the runtime to 60-minutes. Regardless of this, there is artistry to Bell's vision as he takes this bold swing. Whatever one's feelings for this polarizing feature, what has been crafted feels like a one-of-a-kind oddity which will inspire many future filmmakers.

Skinamarink is now available on Blu-Ray and on Shudder