This is liminal horror at its finest.
Have you ever felt like a part of you still exists in your childhood home? For better or for worse, between good and bad memories? Like a small part of your soul is fractured, sitting in a purgatory of salmon-colored walls, sharp Lego bricks, and outdated bedding? Skinarink from Munity Pictures transports its audience to a simpler time, and traps us there, locking us into the place we grew up before throwing away the key. It’s a deeply unsettling exploration of death, childhood, and the home you grew up in.
There’s very little narrative to ground the experience in this impressionistic horror project from filmmaker Kyle Edward Ball. To properly appreciate your viewing, you will have to radically embrace the art-and-test experimentalism of travel. You too will eventually find yourself trapped with the children of Skinarink, in a house without doors or windows. And you will eventually reach the void, unable to leave the ghostly walls of your childhood bedroom. An unavoidable purgatory of memory, senses and tiptoes of little feet.
Many of us who seek the help of a counselor have been asked to transport ourselves to a similar space depicted here. To find our children and provide them with the comfort and support they were never given when they needed it most. Skinarink does the opposite. The horror of this movie is the power it has to pull you back to your most vulnerable place and then leave you there. Unattended, abandoned and lost.
The visuals created by Ball are deliberately sparse, consisting almost entirely of interior b-roll. Haunting glimpses of old televisions cast their glow onto anachronistic toys and running boards. Doorways flash and disappear and faceless figures roam its halls with deep sadness. The horror here is never obviously exploited. There are no antique doll heads, no haunted xylophones. Only the lingering tragedy and fear of vulnerable souls lost in familiar hallways, seeking an adult to help them. It’s relatable, to say the least.
A singular horror reference that kept coming to mind when seeing Skinarink is the unfinished silent Hill Game PT A unique and haunting demo of a video game that fans will remember as a tragic unfinished collaboration between Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro. PT also trapped its audience within familiar walls, forever haunting the same hallways and rooms stained with death, trauma and grief. While the fears in Ball’s film does not reflect anything familiar to PT, they share a certain stressful nostalgia. A liminal passage between life and death, using your childhood home as its particularly cruel prison.
For those looking for a traditional horror movie experience, check back now. And I say this without judgment. Personally, I prefer a filmmaker to do most of the heavy lifting. I like to take a back seat and experience art as background; a passive participant happy to participate in the ride. But not here. Filmmaker Kyle Edward Ball asks the audience to grab the shovel and dig for themselves. It’s not fair, but it’s an exciting and original take on what horror can be like.
The horrors of ‘Skinarink’ lie in its ability to transport you to your childhood home and then leave you there. Unattended, abandoned and lost.