Film 365

Skinamarink (2022)

Rating:

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

Let’s Talk About It:

During my Tumblr days, I was duped into reading No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July. I gave it an average review – it wasn’t anything special. Surely it wasn’t the life-changing, genius collection that Booklr promised it would be. It was just okay. But I made a vow to myself that I would never be swayed by the internet again.

And here I am, thirteen years later. Being swayed by the internet again.

A lot of chatter began in Facebook horror groups during the tail-end of 2022. It started in the found footage group* I’m a part of and it spread to other groups. It leaked onto TikTok and Twitter and invaded other spaces I occupied at the time. Skinamarink was the latest horror movie darling, scaring the pants off reviewers and movie festival judges. It promised a new level of fear through the lens of an experimental horror movie. 

And while the movie was a Shudder original, that meant I would be able to watch it when it was released. However, that wasn’t the case. I’d have to wait for a short theater run to be able to watch it in the comfort of my own home. 

Skinamarink hits all the right nostalgia marks. It presents itself as a retro horror movie, something you may have picked up at the video store on a Friday night. All the credits to the movie are presented at the beginning, adding to that feel. The film is grainy, almost VHS quality. 

But that’s it. 

That’s its whole gimmick. That is all the movie offers. 

It’s difficult to call the movie a slow burn like 2015’s The Witch. This movie has no burn. It’s just loud sounds, disembodied voices, camera angles reminiscent of something you’d see in a TikTok horror video – angles meant to make the viewer uncomfortable – out of focus shots, and zero story. There is no payoff at the end and you’re left wondering why you wasted an hour-and-forty-minutes of your life. 

And that’s the thing – much like July’s stories reminded me of Tumblr posts, this movie felt more like those grainy viral videos posted and reposted on TikTok than it did a cohesive movie. The only thing missing is an intro by cvnela at the beginning of the movie.

Essentially, my review of this movie be summed up in one meme: 

Now I know there are going to be some people who will disagree with me and tell me that I “just don’t understand the movie.” And to that, I bite my thumb at you. My pretentious era ended a long time ago, buddy. 

Movie Details:

Director: Kyle Edward Bell
Writer(s): Kyle Edward Bell
Starring: Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Ross Paul, Jaime Hill
Studio: ERO Picture Company
Release Date: February 2, 2023 (Shudder)
Run Time: 1:40
Rated: Not Rated

*In no way, shape, or form am I saying that Skinamarink is a “found footage film.” It isn’t. But the style choices the director made for the movie echoes that of a found footage film. There is no indication in the movie that the children characters are recording it, but we do see a lot of POV style shots. But we also see their feet a lot, proving that we’re seeing multiple POVs.
Doldrums

The Republican Clown Show

As I write this, Representative Kevin McCarthy is poised to lose his 7th attempt at being Speaker of the House. These last three days it’s been a shitshow in American politics. And that’s saying something. 

There’s a sense of dread of what comes next as the detractors continually vote against McCarthy, keeping him from taking the reins. Reins that he assumed he already had since he moved into the Speaker’s office over the winter break.

While this isn’t even the most ballots cast for Speaker (that record goes to the 34th Congress (1855-1857) which had 133 ballots), it has shed some light that something’s gotta give. 

While I have no illusions that McCarthy will not be the next Speaker, it’s insane that we are watching the center collapse. That the in-fighting of the so-called “party of Lincoln” is being aired before the country and all countries across the world. 

It shows a weakness. Not just in the Republican party in the aftermath of Donald J. Trump, but as the country as a whole. In seven ballots, Hakeem Jeffries earned 212 each time while McCarthy has only earned 202 (for the first three) and 201 (for the last four). They need 218 to win. And it would be political suicide if six Republican centrists or seventeen Democratic centrists would vote for the other team. 

If this doesn’t scream that a change needs to be made, I don’t know what will.

Photo by Kendall Hoopes
Stream of Consciousness

An Atheist Christmas Special 2022

He spends too much time watching TV. Staring at the screen of his cell phone. Sometimes, he does both at the same time. Wasting hours that he’ll never get back watching media he won’t remember the next day. 

Remember that one TikTok video you watched while taking a shit? You sat there for at least five videos before you wiped and got back to whatever you were doing before nature called. Five videos worth of time after your final push. You sat on that toilet for five more videos breathing in shit particles exhumed from your shitty ass. And you saw that one video—not a thirst trap, but you do tend to like those as soon as they start—and it made you laugh? 

Of course, you don’t. Nobody remembers what they watched.

Continue reading “An Atheist Christmas Special 2022”
Books

Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor

It was sometime in 2020 when I noticed a writer friend of mine had unfriended me on Facebook. It had been a while since he appeared on my timeline, but I thought nothing of it. I rarely got on Facebook anymore, only signing on when work required me to gather up writers of all sorts of readings. In the midst of the pandemic, however, all our in-person activities were canceled. 

I can’t remember what caused me to look. Maybe I saw him comment on a mutual friend and I clicked his profile to see what he was up to. Or maybe it was curiosity that had me search him up. Maybe still, he appeared on my “People You May Know” list. Either way, it was clear that he had removed me as a friend.

We were never on the same side politically, and it was something I long ago accepted. His religion drove his political beliefs just as my anti-religion drove mine. Still we were civil with each other. We may have had disagreements, but nothing to quietly end a friendship over. 

At least, so I thought. 

Now I can’t tell you when our friendship derailed, but I can guess when it started to get off track. And the reason why. 

In 2016, something happened in US history that I can’t begin to explain or fathom despite it happening before my eyes. On November 9, 2016, Donald J. Trump became president-elect, winning the electoral college vote while still losing the popular vote across the nation. While many true-Republicans stood at uncertainty, several more saw this as a success.

They had beaten Hiliary Clinton and that is all that mattered. 

I, like anyone liberal-minded person, knew this meant certain doom to our country, to the freedoms so many disenfranchised and marginalized communities. We would see the overturning of Roe v. Wade. We would see that the LGBTQIA demographic would no longer be allowed to be open in the military, and, worse still, lose their right to marry the people they loved.

Things voters like my former-friend cheered for. 

Continue reading “Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor”
Books

FEARFUL: Scary Stories of the Cursed Filter by Christian Nava

Christian Nava takes us back to Quiet Falls in the second book to his Fearful series

When we were last here, we followed Esau and company as they fought the evil app/phone that had taken control of his brother, Jake (aka GoatyJakey). Now a new evil threatens the citizens of not-so-Quiet Falls, once again proving that Nava has a Stephen King-esque aversion toward technology. 

There’s just one tiny problem – Esau isn’t in the story. And while CJ, Jake, and Kara (as  Ex-Machina) make an appearance, they’re downgraded to secondary characters. I do like that they’ve formed their own version of the Scooby Gang, hunting the horrors of Quiet Falls. 

In this story, we meet Lily Andrews, her brother Donnie, and the Sucky Siblings, Blair and Caleb. In an attempt to protect her brother from being terrorized by Blair and Caleb, Lily makes a deal with the mysterious Diana, whose shop just magically appears in the woods one day. She is given an irl filter, which has the power to transform Lily into someone’s wildest daydream to their most horrendous nightmare. 

But nothing in Quiet Falls is cheap, and Lily must pay the price. 

Continue reading “FEARFUL: Scary Stories of the Cursed Filter by Christian Nava”
Personal

Revisions

Getting back into the groove of things isn’t easy. Especially after taking a long hiatus. A hiatus that I figured would last indefinitely. Last Thursday, I participated in the Latine Heritage Month reading at the library. Yes, that library. The one I used to work at. 

And two weeks before that, I participated at an open mic at Moonbeans. Though, if I’m honest, I wasn’t going to partake in that reading (more on that later, possibly another post). 

At both readings, I read something I had written with V in mind. (This poem, actually.) As you can see, the poem didn’t age well. Which is a problem with adding pop culture references in your works. (Note: This isn’t always the case, however. There are plenty of beautifully, wittily written poems that drop random references that have aged wonderfully. Well, I’m sure there are, anyway.)

During the Moonbeans reading, I noted what wasn’t working with the poem. Keep in mind, this version is a Frankensteined creation of two poems smashed together. Something I had composed for a Love & Chocolate reading held a few years ago. 

For the reading at Sekula, I omitted most of the first point. And noted that my father had passed a few months after writing the piece.

While doing so, I remembered something a creative writing professor told me. How the editing process is never truly done, even after publishing. Writers always think of new ways their works could have been better. And maybe that’s what I’ll do. Sit down and read my “best of” poems and contemplate how to “correct” them. 

Because outside of that one poem, I haven’t written poetry in a long while. And outside of these rough-draft, journal-entry type blog posts, I haven’t really written anything either. 

Once a fixture—a staple—within the local poetry scene, I bowed out and took a seat. While the conflict that led to the decision was only partially to blame, things had changed by then. I’d become a father, took down a real job, and began focusing my attention on them. Coupled with the fact that my relationship with Jeanna began, poetry readings didn’t seem as important. 

But performance is a drug not easily shaken. Standing at the mic, reading to a roomful of strangers or friends, just felt right. Like a missing limb or an old confidante.

Photo by Heorhii Heorhiichuk