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SKINAMARINK: The Tedious Viral Lo-Fi Horror

Best classified as an experimental horror film, Skinamarink certainly takes risks while sinking its viewer more deeply into lo-fi tension. But the film, which went viral online before its release for being the scariest of the year, failed to land genuine terror for me. A slow-burn that never actually ignites into something more.

Under a gritty filter is a story about two siblings who awake to find their home no longer has doors or windows and their father has gone missing. While we never see their faces, we see glimpses of what the two experience and how they make due in this bizarre and surreal setting, while something seemingly lurks in the dark.

Any sense of dread is dependent on viewers’ imagination, but not much ever comes to fruition. In a feature-length film, that becomes exhausting as the runtime adds up. After an hour and 40 minutes, you’ve seen so much repetition, the same camera work over and over, with no reward to follow. It all just feels wasteful.

If the goal was to place viewers into an experience where their minds could run wild, it would have been much more purposeful if it stayed under 40 minutes. Then the story would feel much less tedious.

And it doesn’t help that the overly noisy visuals add another layer of tediousness to the viewing experience. I know the grittiness serves some purpose, even if it’s just for aesthetics, but it’s frustrating. It would have been possible to achieve the same style and atmosphere with 30% less grain texture and not leave viewers straining the entire time.

Skinamarink is certainly a divisive movie. You may appreciate it for its unique choices, to support an independent set of filmmakers, or to perhaps figure out its very interpretive narrative. But in terms of being the “scariest film of the year” or even a solid slow-burn, it’s unsuccessful as the build-up never leads to anything.

If you liked Skinamraink, let me know in the comments below. And regardless of your opinion, are you interested in seeing more lo-fi horror films released in the future?

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