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Skinamarink (2022)

I expect it's a little like being recently blind. Your brain scrabbles about for anything to reference the world around you. Things you may miss normally become relevant to such a degree that you can be in danger of inferring something into nothing, due to little more than an overtly active imagination or lack of clarity elsewhere.


"Skidamarink (closest I could find) does not mean anything. It’s just a silly, made-up word. The song is originally from an early 20th century Broadway musical, and over the years has been sung as Skinnamarink, Skinnymarink, Skiddymerink, and more." - supersimple.com


This was the first thing I checked, to see if I, still retaining my mostly working eyeballs, could discern a clue to what I was watching, potentially benefitting from a mysterious theme or admittedly well-hidden plot. This was not unlike the time I watched Paranormal Activity so closely that my nose was nearly touching screen, hoping to spot something happening, anything.


It's a good eight minutes before a word is spoken. By whom and who to is not yet clear, but it is a child asking the question. Up to this point, we have mostly darkness, punctuated by the occasional light bulb going on and off and the odd bump in the night and creaking doors. Ambiguity, it would appear, is king. Taps foot impatiently. Still waiting for the horror of this family's apparent nocturnal wanderings. C'mon c'mon do something already. I was already leaning to the slightly annoyed side of the fence that we could possibly land on.


The film lends itself to those of an active imagination as there is so little to go on. The deliberately inconvenient shot choices, mostly either above head height or on the carpet do not allow for the viewer to gauge much of anything going on. Add to this the tendency to under or over-expose the shots make it even more unsettling.


We have learned by now that what you can't see is usually much more frightening than what you can, and the film plays on this fact to great effect by maintaining the feeling of 'edge of the seat' uncomfortableness in its apparent lack of what most film audiences would expect. Like a plot, for example. It's there but you have to really want to see it. Most of the time, you have absolutely no idea what is going on. Confused, maybe, as the children locked in a house with no windows and doors in order to escape, their father and protector disappeared. Even the phone doesn't work. At least for a bit.


'Experimental' doesn't really do this justice. It's so far from what you will be used to that you'll question if it should even exist as a creative project of any note. Those of a more artistic, less obvious, leaning may find themselves helplessly fawning over it for reasons the rest of us don't really understand, and all power to you if you do. For the rest of us, this makes Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity, even at their quietest periods, seem positively boisterous by comparison.


Creepypasta fans will love it, but purely from the perspective of entertainment it is ultimately unfulfilling. The is a major achievement for independent cinema, given that it has most horror lovers in raptures, for one reason or another. All for fifteen grand. If every film was made this way, we'd be in trouble, but because they aren't, it allows for innovation like this to be created. It offers so little, you can at least take what you will. If anything it will probably cause much argument and debate.



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