Viral sensation Skinamarink is this generation’s Blair Witch project

The deceptive indie horror film presented by Kyle Edward Poole Skinamarink Scattered, like the song from which the ball takes its name. The movie, which became famous via TikTok and word of mouth, was shot entirely inside Ball’s childhood home in Edmonton, Alberta. It only has two distinct characters, who are barely visible on screen. Ball designs his horror, and thus his “story,” around sensual and atmospheric tricks, using carefully orchestrated photography, lighting, sound, and editing work. Skinamarink It has been met with both praise and skepticism, as have many other great historical horror films—notably 1999’s horror game-changer Daniel Merrick and Eduardo Sanchez. The Blair Witch Project. Ball’s approach recalls the idea of ​​fear, the subtle formal movements he uses to generate it, and the audience’s polarizing response. Blair Witch also.

“Skidamarink” song Also known as “Skinamarink,” it dates back to the 1910 musical echo. Her words are mostly nonsense. Each short verse ends with “I love you”. About halfway Skinamarink, the two main characters – Kaylee and Kevin, a sister-in-law and a very young brother – tell each other “I love you”, showing that they are worried about their situation. Left alone in a dark house where the doors and windows are gone, they are bored of playing with their toys, watching cartoons and eating pills. They’re starting to notice that the house is getting darker and darker, and they want their parents back. Then a childish gurgling sound beckons them.

The film’s horror mystery, which relies on sense far more than overtly scary characters or monsters, won over some viewers. Fans say it’s innovative in the way the ball creates a sense of awe from simple elements. Non-fans say he’s slow, rambunctious, and lacks fear. It all resets The Blair Witch Projectwhich was similarly criticized as “boring” and “unscary” by viewers who had bought into the advance hype about the film, and then found that it wasn’t what they expected from a horror movie.

Some audiences have been confused and frustrated before Blair WitchThe approach to realistic cinema, with its improvised dialogue, characterization and camera movements. It wasn’t the first found footage horror movie, but it is Technology revolutionized American cinema: the ways in which the camera shakes, rattles, drops, and obscures objects on purpose indicates that the film was not “directed”.

This approach alarmed audiences so much that police in Burkittsville, Maryland, where the film was set, Received several phone calls Concerned citizens who believed the Blair Witch videotape was real, formed search parties to find the three characters from the movie. Filmmakers use this portable camera to capture the eyes and minds of viewers to play tricks on them. When the pictures move, the shapes and shadows start to dance. The movie never looks evil in the face, but it’s designed to make people sure it is Of course I saw something lurking right out of the shot.

in knifemarink, The camera is mostly still. It dares us to stare into the dark hallways, the crevices between the furniture, and the shadows that obscure the stairwells. The camera stares restlessly into a darkened room, or hallway in particular. (It’s hard to tell — the spatial geometry of the house is purposefully ambiguous.) This approach is designed to get viewers to begin to imagine what it might be like lying out of their sight. We can’t see him, but what if he could see us?

The presence or absence of objects is a large part of the movie’s suspense. The camera is often at ground level or tilted toward the ceiling, which keeps the characters’ presence and movements ambiguous. When a door knocks, you don’t know who or what is walking through. When the light turns on, it only reveals more dark spaces.

Jamie McRae’s cinematography takes Kyle’s or Kylie’s point of view several times, with the camera stuttering as they try to find their way through the darkness, lured by voices. Other times, he’s only seen in fragments, feet dangling from a sofa, lit by the gleaming gleam of a television, or the back of a head, while someone peers into the seemingly infinite nothingness through a dark doorway. These conscious decisions make the floors and walls of a home look massive. It is constantly changing our understanding of how a home is put together. Anything can become a portal. Any door can disappear, and later reappear. Perhaps the house was alive, and could strike from literally anywhere.

While Skinamarink Rendered in a retro analog style, with high grain and saturation intended to mimic the exploitation cinema of the ’70s and ’80s, the film’s inspiration and word-of-mouth reception was born of the Internet. a ball He runs a YouTube channel He made short films of viewers recounting their nightmares. he He told recently that “from the very beginning, the internet has been my co-manager”. He converts one of those requests into a file Short horror DamnA clear introduction to Skinamarink. After, after Skinamarink It debuted at Fantasia Festival 2022, TikTok users have started creating their own videos Warning viewers of how terrifying the movie is. A press release from streaming service Shudder claims that the hashtag #Skinamarink has garnered nearly 7 million impressions on TikTok.

Horror and media have always been intertwined in one way or another. Both The Blair Witch Project And Skinamarink It gained notoriety through its spread on the Internet – in SkinamarinkAfter the entire movie was leaked online. Both films also use technology as a source of horror. but where The Blair Witch Project A handheld digital camera is used as a cipher of terror, and the ball used ancient technology. The television in the house, which remains on for almost the entirety of the movie, is both a source of comfort and malevolence. It’s an old analog TV with a VCR, showing old public domain cartoons, including the Looney Tunes short. “Prest-O Change-O.”

In a blurry, artifact-riddled shot from The Blair Witch Project, protagonist Mike (Michael Williams) smiles and points his camera outward toward the camera he's shooting.

Photo: Artisan Entertainment

The metaphor provided by the short shows is clear – the house is in a constant state of transformation, the way objects disappear and random passages represent fear of the unknown and loss of control. The harsh white light of television, which often shows children and their toys, begins repeating cartoon sequences. Distortion and audio cycles. A toy phone rings as if it’s been possessed. These simple household events take on a sinister presence in the dark. Anyone who grew up in a suburban home can remember those kinds of household creaks and scratches, which sound louder late at night than they ever do when the sun goes down.

SkinamarinkBall’s production budget was only about $11,000, and Ball Taking full advantage of his financial constraints, he simplifies the film’s atmosphere and builds on the essential elements of cinema. It is a fascinating force to understand how sound and camera movements alone, with common objects and within common spaces, can create amazingly effective emotional responses. a ball iHorror said“I’d like to say that in many ways I’m a little incompetent, but my great strength that I’ve always had is atmosphere.”

Horror has always been more open to cinema’s imaginative possibilities than most genres, and often makes the most of tight budgets by focusing on mood and aura. For Ball, the limitations of his YouTube channel’s production helped teach him what works in horror, and how to work around not having a budget for actors or effects. “I had to do a lot of tricks in terms of suggestive movement, implying presence, POV, to tell a story without a cast,” he told iHorror.

For some people, these limitations and SkinamarinkUnconventional storytelling is failures, just like The Blair Witch ProjectIts choppy visuals, improvised dialogue, and narrative teases were flops. But both movies are golden examples of the ways horror filmmakers can experiment with mood and feel, and still find a receptive audience. The approaches to these films are not for everyone, and not in a culture that would rather focus on films telling the audience things rather than making them feel things.

either way, Skinamarink Undeniably, it provokes strong reactions. Likes The Blair Witch Project Set in 1999, it’s nothing like other viral hits of its era, and its ability to evoke fear and dread in the simplest of ways is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity that horror cinema has to offer. It remains to be seen whether Skinamarink Anything like effect The Blair Witch Project It was in cinema, in terms of producing endless copycats and a massive subgenre of its own. Perhaps instead it will serve as a reminder that as long as horror directors continue to find new ways to scare their audiences, they will continue to push the genre even further.

Skinamarink Debuts in theaters on January 13.

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