Unless you want to? Seriously, go see it if you do. You may never see a movie like this in a theater again.
We traveled to Reading PA to see a late night showing of the film Sunday night–a few friends were mad it wasn’t in their hometown of Philadelphia but a smaller venue like the AMC in Berks County.
It was not overly crowded for our showing, just a few people sprinkled around the theater, mostly with blankets and their feet up.
The Horror Report will make the valiant attempt of keeping spoilers mostly out, but expect a few here and there.
There is a simple (we think) premise:
In the year 1995, two children wake up in the middle of the night to find their father is missing, and all the windows and doors in their home have vanished. Kyle Edward Ball, the writer of the low budget movie *$15,000!* takes us on a journey from there..
From the moment the film begins until the second it ends, you feel automatic frustration. There is anger over the camera angles–why do they only show the tops and bottom of doors! Why only feet! Why only legos over and over and over again. Then when the TV starts playing? Sheesh.. We quickly had our fill of old fashioned creepy cartoons. Fast.
There are scenes of confusion. Scenes where there are subtitles for sentences that you can clearly understand, but no subtitles for muffled words being said in dark hallways or upstairs in the house.
There were moments of Twilight Zone vibes when toilets vanished and reappeared, or blood streaked and then went backwards. But so many other scenes clearly expanded this movie longer than it should have been. What would have been a great 15-minute turned into an hour and 40 minutes of confusion. Mania. Anxiety.
So in that sense, it also worked.
Look, we don’t know if Kyle Ball wants us to like this movie or hate it. It divided the horror world since its inception. But while it seems hard to watch, you can also become trapped by it. You are painfully watching each camera angle and slow movement, you are vaguely understanding what is going on but it all takes place off camera. So you are just a witness to something happening somewhere else, constantly. You never quite see the full story, just hear bits and pieces.
The magic of this frustration is overwhelming in concept: You are stuck in the house with these kids. Whether you are stuck in a dream, their dream, your dream, or some paranormal realm, you are stuck. The imagery, in all its mundane attire, is perfect for the theme: These dark corners, long hallways, and shadows created by a cartoon at midnight, are all things kids are frightened of. They are the origins of dreams, or at least confusion when you are trying to wake from a dream but somehow still being held in it.
There is a scene in the film that so perfectly illustrates that stuckness.. It is a moment when a cartoon continuously repeats over. And over. And over. And over and over.. again..
Enjoy it here:
At the same time for all the positive statements just made, Skinamarink was at the same time almost unwatchable. Almost. But we watched. Perhaps that was a bit of the goal of film makers? Give us a movie that is so dreadful it is boring, so dark it becomes overdone?
There is also a sense of sadness in this house. While we cannot put our finger quite on it, the kids don’t have normal reactions. As a matter of fact, we grew to somewhat dislike the kids, eventually you end up not even feeling emotion towards them. Quite frankly, this is one of the few movies ever with little character development. You are simply just a fly on the wall, stuck in the house watching kids react to not having parents, windows, or doors. SPOILER: Even when the girl gets her mouth taken off and the boy stabs himself in the eye, you are so done with them that you lose interest. For all the sadness you felt now you just feel like you want to get out of the theater just as much as they want to get out of the house.
So yes indeed we watched.
We watched until the end when the movie simply said ‘the end.’ And THAT may have been the most frustrating part of all.