Canadian Experimental Horror ‘Skinamarink’ is One Trippy Flick

Alice Oscura, Featured Writer

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead

Context: There are just some movies out there that baffle the heck out of audiences, and you just don’t know how to begin to explain what you just saw. Skinamarink is such a film, but the impressive feat here is the director’s ability to tell an indirect story that hints at so many different possibilities and interpretations without coming across as “woke”. It’s elevated horror at its finest that feels like a long, trippy nightmare of an impressionable child.

Hey Jimmy. It’s time to go to bed. If that’s okay with you, of course

Let’s kick things off with a brief backstory before we get into the nitty-gritty of the performance of the film itself. If the name sounds a bit familiar, it’s because it was inspired by the children’s nursery rhyme called “Skidamarink A Dink A Dink”Its origins date back to 1910 when it was written by Broadway lyricist Felix F. Feist and composer Al Piantadosi for the musical The Echo

Skinamarink is directed and written by Kyle Edward Ball and is an expansion of his horror short Heck from his Bitesized Nightmares YouTube channel. Ball based the story on a nightmare that he had as a child. Skinamarink is the director’s debut and is categorised as a Canadian experimental supernatural horror film. It was shot in Ball’s childhood home in Edmonton, Canada.

You know what would have made this even scarier? If there was a LEGO block on the carpet

Review: Skinamarink’s story is set in 1995, two siblings six-year-old Kaylee (Dali Rose Tetreault) and four-year-old Kevin (Lucas Paul) discover that they are left home alone at night. They live with their father and he’s nowhere to be found. What makes things weirder is the fact that doors, windows, and other objects keep mysteriously disappearing and some of them reappear somewhere else in the house, like the ceiling for example. Eventually, an obscured entity begins to whisper to the children from within the darkness of the house.

In the film, the audience will spend most of their time watching the children’s pajama legs move around the house, lights being turned on in the rooms, and looking at blurry old cartoons on their television screen. The unnerving nature builds to a crescendo during scenes where the children converse with each other. There are a few pivotal moments that could hint at a more sinister, underlying explanation for the events occurring. One such conversation is Kevin stating that maybe their father left to be with their mother. Kaylee’s reply is clear — she doesn’t want to talk about their mother. There is a painful edge to her voice which hints that the children’s parents are not together anymore. The likelihood that the mother possibly abandoned them in their father’s care is simply speculation. The genius of this is how one line and its delivery was able to project this and many other theories as possible explanations for the children’s current predicament.

Aww. Home movies. Really heartwarming stuff

The later sequences of Skinamarink are sufficiently disturbing to prompt the viewer into wondering if a supernatural entity was preying on the children after dispensing with their parents. But another fan theory indicated that the entire nightmarish sequence takes place in little Kevin’s mind as a direct circumstance of a head trauma he might have received after experiencing a fall earlier in the film. Another theory that you can find online is that the monster in the dark is a manifestation of emotional trauma suffered by the children due to the parents splitting up and can quite possibly be an allegory for physical abuse. I do not agree with the latter though; it seems a bit too excessive, and I do not think that is what the director was going for.

In essence, the how and why are left purely up to the audience for interpretation of the film’s bizarre events. While the execution of the story is extremely slow during the film’s long run time, Skinamarink still entices the viewer to stick around until the end. The strange, anxiety-inducing atmosphere prompted by young children being in peril is a disconcerting watch.

Yeah. Maybe modern art just isn’t for me

The weaker elements of the film include the unnecessarily long run time of 100 minutes and the fact that the audience will not be able to make a deeper emotional connection with the children due to the lack of showing their faces. That may or may not be an issue for some, but I found it created quite a detachment from the main characters. Also, the visibility is somewhat grainy and extremely dark during certain sequences, which can be a bit frustrating at times.

Skinamarink is not going to be everyone’s jam or appeal to the masses. The takeaway is that the director does manage to have some viewers reevaluate horror in modern cinema and should be applauded for successfully maintaining originality by drawing out the vulnerability of everyone’s inner child.

Alice’s Score: 6 out of 10

Have you seen Skinamarink? What did you think of it? And you can check out more child-centric supernatural horror content below:


Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump. I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. Read More

Leave a Reply