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Sunday Scaries: The Mere Existence of ‘Skinamarink’ is Notable, Regardless of If You Love or Hate the Film

IFC Midnight

The Sunday Scaries are upon us once again! Yes, as the weekend concludes, most of us feel an oncoming sense of anticipatory dread about the week ahead. Anxiety about work manifests itself into a feeling that’s known as the Sunday Scaries. However, we at Awards Radar are here to combat that, by taking back the name. Now, we want you think about a horror-centric piece on the site when you hear the term. So, let us continue on with another installment of the Awards Radar Sunday Scaries! This week, we’re talking about why it’s good that a new horror film exists, even if some of our staff didn’t care for it…

I actively disliked Skinamarink. I want to just state that off the top, because it helps to illuminate the point that I’m making today. Personally, I found the experience of watching it to be a slog, unpleasant, and an actively unenjoyable time. By that same token, I’m actually pretty thrilled that a movie like that exists. I’ll explain below.

IFC Midnight

For context, this here is some of what I said in my review of Skinamarink:

This is a complicated review to formulate, I’ll freely admit it. On the one hand, Skinamarink is a bold and uncompromising vision for horror. On the other hand, it’s so slow, and asks so much of its audience, that I was never able to come close to getting into it. The viewer doesn’t have to just do work, they have to do nearly all of the work. Early on, there’s a curiosity factor and even fascination with how things are being presented. Quickly though, it becomes a case of diminishing returns, leading to disappointment for yours truly.

Skinamarink certainly is not like anything out there. Arguably, it’s not like anything else that’s ever been made. At the same time, while it’s almost the inverse of elevated horror (while still being a version of that), the flick is also an example of slow cinema. More often than not, that type of picture bounces off me, even though I appreciate its effort and existence. This is very much that sort of a situation. The movie is attempting to depict childhood trauma, and in doing so, eschew almost all sense of character and plot. It’s lo-fi ambitious, but falls short of the mark.

Filmmaker Kyle Edward Ball is the star here. He clearly is making a passion project and singular vision with Skinamarink, without question. Ball is engaging in sensory horror and asking you to figure out what you’re potentially terrified of. For some, it’s going to be an almost unbearably scary experience. For others, it’s going to be almost impossible to get into. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of middle ground, which speaks to the specificity of Ball’s vision. I’m definitely keen to see what he does next. Here? It just did not work for me, falling into banality and repetition instead of terror.

I respect the hell out of Skinamarink. It’s wild that this movie actually exists. At the same time, while it’s fairly unsettling, it’s so obtuse, it asks you to do all of the work, giving too little in return to warrant a recommendation. That’s my take, though, and I’m sure many of you will love it. That’s just the nature of the indie horror beast.

IFC Midnight

Writer/director Kyle Edward Ball has committed so fully to a premise that so few would ever finance, he deserves my respect just for actually making the flick. Skinamarink going from idea to screenplay to production to finished film out in theaters now is a bit of miracle. In an era where so many genre efforts feel cookie cutter, this is anything but. While I got no enjoyment out of it, Ball and his project deserve my utmost respect, regardless.

I’m not alone in feeling this way, either, as Myles recently saw the film and sent out this tweet right afterwards:

Now, take what we’re saying with a grain of salt, because the film has been well-reviewed and even raved about. Some of that may have more than a bit to do with Myles and myself not being fans of slow cinema, which this sure is, but taste is subjective. It all goes back to a pet peeve of mine, which I tweeted about last year:

If nothing else, I walk the walk with this, as opposed to just talking the talk on social medial. That counts for something, right? Regardless, while pondering Skinamarink, it did occur to me how I rarely see many of my colleagues doing this. More often, it’s saying that something is bad, full stop. Sure, that’s how criticism goes, but seeing the other side of the coin has value.

Essentially, I’m just putting it out there that you can dislike something and still be glad that it exists. Skinamarink was not for me, in the slightest, but if it’s for you, that’s great. Congrats to Ball for making it. Here’s hoping I like his next outing more.

Stay tuned for another Sunday Scaries installment next weekend!

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Written by Joey Magidson

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