After making a surprising smash in theaters and on social media, Kyle Edward Ball’s horror film Skinamarink has finally dropped on Shudder. Taking place in 1995, the film follows young siblings Kaylee and Kevin, who wake up in the night to find that their father is nowhere to be seen and that windows and doors in their house have inexplicably vanished.
Despite its humble setting and limited resources, Skinamarink succeeds at building tension and suspense by leaving everything to the audience’s imagination. The film feels like a child’s nightmare brought to life, and it will leave even the most hardened horror fans watching it through their fingers. Even so, it may continue to leave casual moviegoers scratching their heads, so for those wondering about it, here’s a guide to this perplexing movie all the way to the end.
What is Skinamarink’s story?
The film begins with Kevin falling down the stairs and hitting his head in what Kaylee says was a sleepwalking accident. After this, their father goes missing, and things around the house suddenly disappear. The children decide to sleep downstairs and watch cartoons, but they wake up later to see the house is still dark and multiple objects suspended on the walls and ceiling, including toys and furniture.
Kaylee then hears a strange voice calling her upstairs. She goes to her parents’ bedroom to find her father and mother sitting on the bed in a seemingly dazed state, only for the two of them to vanish. This unseen entity beckons Kaylee into the darkness a second time, but after she refuses to follow its orders and asks for her parents, it takes away her eyes and mouth.
Later, the voice makes Kevin drive a knife into one of his eyes. But when Kevin calls 911 for help, the entity replaces the phone with a toy phone, saying it can “do anything.” This moment proves there is no way out for Kevin, so when it asks him to go upstairs to one of the bedrooms, the boy obeys. The film cuts to a pile of toys in a hallway that seems to go on forever with the text, “572 Days,” which might be how long Kevin has been trapped with the entity.
In one of the bedrooms, a figure is seen on the bed slowly vanishing. The film also shows many pictures of people without a face or head, looking as if they were brushed out of existence. In the film’s final moments, an unknown figure (implied to be the entity) tells Kevin to go to sleep, but not before the latter asks for its name. The figure doesn’t respond, and the film cuts to black.
What is Skinamarink’s ending?
As an experimental horror film, Skinamarink doesn’t have a definitive answer for what happens to Kevin and his family, leaving only little hints pointing to the story’s true meaning. Since Kevin fell down the stairs and hurt himself, all the paranormal things occurring afterward may just be in his injured head. He could have even fallen into a coma after his accident, and when the screen says “572 days,” it could be referring to how long he has been asleep.
The idea that Kevin imagines everything supernatural happening supports the notion that he is coping with the familial trouble indicated in the film. For instance, when both children ponder their father’s whereabouts, Kevin suggests that he “went with mom,” with Kaylee not wanting to discuss the latter. It’s unclear if their absent mother is dead or if she had divorced their father, but the story is arguably meant to explore Kevin’s childlike vision of loss and despair.
The entity tormenting Kevin and his sister seems to symbolize his sadness over their mother’s absence. The way the figure tells Kevin to go to sleep in the final scene is similar to how his mother tells Kaylee to “close her eyes.” This seems to represent how their mother has disappeared from Kevin’s life and how the grief the entity embodies has taken her place, consuming his world until there’s nothing left.
Whether or not everything in the entity is a figment of Kevin’s imagination, Skinamarink presents the child with an invisible monster he can neither comprehend nor defeat. As a result, the terror in this film comes from a fear of the unknown, with the children and the audience not knowing who or what is haunting the house or when it will strike. There are no answers, no explanation, and no hope of escape — only darkness.
Skinamarink is now streaming on Shudder.
- I’m a Scream fan. Here’s why Scream 6 disappointed me
- Scream 6’s ending explained
- The 7 best Hitchcockian thrillers ever, ranked
- Children of the Corn is back. We talked with the director about the remake and Stephen King’s appeal
- The 10 best movies of 2023 so far