Skinamarink is a strikingly original theatrical experience that challenges audience to get on its gloomy, nighmarish wavelength and sit anxiously through a horror story told from the timebending perspective of a four-year-old. But director Kyle Edward Ball is confident it will scare you on TV, too.
The film, which he made for under $15,000 and which has already earned more than $1.8 million, according to BoxOffice Mojo, arrives on Shudder today after a theatrical run that started on January 13. One could argue that it deserves a longer theatrical-only run, given its astounding success, but Shudder will give it a much wider potential audience.
What Skinamarink Is, Exactly
If you haven’t heard the relentless buzz around Skinamarink, here’s a quick summary.
The film follows two young children who wake up to find their father missing and the doors and windows of their house missing, as well. Innocent childhood toys take on a sinister cast in the film’s low light. The children begin receiving strange commands.
In short, Skinamarink recreates the very frightening childhood feeling of waking up in the middle of the night to a strange sound, and not knowing what to do. And, when you’re in a theater with no distractions — except the uncomfortable jostling of your fellow viewers — it feels as endless as a long night when everyone else is asleep.
But Ball believes that feeling will translate to a TV screen viewing as well — and that you can even watch the film on a computer. In fact, Skinarmarink was born from his YouTube channel, where some of his fans watched his work on their phones.
In a talk with Joshua Encinias for MovieMaker about how the Skinamarink experience changes depending on what platform you watch it on, Ball replied:
“It’s hard because I’ve seen so many people talk about the theatrical response to Skinamarink and feeling of being in a theater with a ton of anxious people. I’ve also heard about film critics getting screeners who talk about watching it on their laptop and how scary that was.”
He added: “And I’ve seen the inverse, where people watched it on a laptop or watched it in a theater and couldn’t even finish it.
“I would say, like most good horror movies, they will feel great in a theater and also great at home,” he said. “I didn’t have the luxury of seeing most of my favorite horror movies in the theater. I had to watch them on TV.”
So if you don’t have the option of seeing Skinamarink in a theater, don’t worry: You’ll still feel creeped out watching it on Shudder. (If this is the first you’re hearing of Shudder, it’s well worth the free trial.)
The film, which premiered at the Fantasia film festival in Montreal last summer, stars Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Ross Paul and Jaime Hill.
You can visit here to read the full interview with Kyle Edward Ball, where he also discusses the origins of Skinamarink, why creepy is better than scary, and how he saved the film after a terrible personal tragedy for him and everyone involved in the film: The loss of Skinamarink assistant director Josh Bookhalter.
Ball also talks about whether he feels obligated to make a more traditional, potentially mainstream movie given the success of his very experimental debut, and about some of the films he watched growing up that have stayed with him the most, including Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic The Shining.
Main image: an upsetting doll in Skinamarink.