This post contains contain major spoilers for the film "Skinamarink."
In order to delve into the ending of Kyle Edward Ball's excellent new horror film "Skinamarink," one must know a little bit about dreams.
"Skinamarink" was filmed in Ball's own childhood home, and is about two young children, only four and six years old, wandering the hallways at 3 a.m. Their only illumination is the flickering TV set, tuned to half-absorbed public-domain cartoons. There is constantly hissing and shuffling white noise on the soundtrack, interrupted by whispers and strange, terrifying demands. The windows and doors have vanished. When one of the children wanders into their parents' room, their mom won't look at them (audiences only see the back of her head) and their father appears to be missing.
"Look under the bed," we hear. There is no story to "Skinamarink," per se, but Ball expertly constructs the rising and falling action of a genuine nightmare, ramming a melon baller deep into our cerebrum and scooping out ancient fears we had long ago forgotten about. "Skinamarink" requires a heck of a lot of patience — there is little dialogue, few shots of peoples' faces, and no plot — but those willing to face its challenges will be rewarded with one of the single most frightening films in recent memory. This is no jump-scare-fueled haunted house. This is a direct infusion of childhood fear.
It's important to know that Ball made a name for himself on his YouTube channel Bitesized Nightmares. Viewers would mail in descriptions of their most frightening dream experiences, and Ball would recreate them. The young Canadian filmmaker seems to take a lot of inspiration from dreams.
The Nightmares Of Children
Throughout "Skinamarink," it becomes clear that there is some kind of undefined demonic presence in the house. A deep, scary voice begins to interject on the action, although the speaker is never revealed. Occasionally, one of the parents will whisper something scary and detached to their children, including a dark demand involving a knife. In a more conventional horror movie, these events would be explained by well-worn exposition about demonology. "Skinamarink" is a horror film refreshingly without rules.
The final scenes of "Skinamarink" find the four-year-old boy Kevin (Lucas Paul) witnessing his toys vanishing from the floor and resting supernaturally against the ceiling. Eventually, he too will be on the ceiling. He will wander into once-familiar hallways, and find that he and his home have perhaps vanished into another realm. Reality has dissipated. He seems to know something else is nearby. Something that is not his parents or his sister. The final shot will be a dark, empty space. Barely visible through the film's cinematic grain is a pale human face. Kevin, still never daring to speak above a whisper asks this thing "What's your name?"
What is that being? Readers of Carl Jung might describe it as the Shadow.
Anyone who has taken a psychology 101 class will likely be able to list Jung's four Dream Archetypes: the Self, the Shadow, the Anima/Animus, and the Persona. The Self is, well, self-explanatory, being the unique identity of an individual as it exists deep inside their mind. It's essentially the first-person "protagonist" of a dream. The Shadow, meanwhile, is the antagonist, the monster in our dreams. By Jung's estimation, it tends to represent our deepest fears.
The face is the Shadow.
The Self, The Shadow, The Anima, The Persona
It's fair to borrow Jung's terms because Ball is clearly exploring a dream space. One might argue that "Skinamarink" is entirely a dream, an interpretation that won't make the film any less scary. The children are exploring their own minds and their own fears. Common nightmares as a child typically involve being in the home but discovering it to have been altered or mutated in some way. Perhaps the windows are gone. The inability to speak up or to find help is also common, as when Kevin calls 9-1-1 and explains — without words — that something horrible has happened. Much of the dialogue in "Skinamarink" is inaudible, and subtitles are used.
The Shadow appears to be some kind of controlling force of the eerie events of "Skinamarink." Jung posited that the Animus and Anima form in infancy, and are represented in dreams by a strange and powerful, but often friendly, godlike figure. One might say that the strange, old cartoons might be the Animae of the children, providing light and presenting scenarios of power. But, frighteningly, it is boxed up. It cannot affect the events of the world. It can only watch and narrate.
The Persona of Jung's teachings has a few subcategories, but it's essentially the "hero" that the Self can make itself into, or at least tap into. One of the said subcategories is called the Divine Child, which — as its Christian-sounding name would imply — represents a powerful, divine innocence.
But, it's worth noting that the children in "Skinamarink" have no power. This is not a story of triumph or struggle. It is a story of fear. The Shadow appears and the world dissipates. It cannot be stopped. It has no name.
In "Skinamarink," the Shadow is everything.
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The post Skinamarink Ending Explained: You're Just My Archetype appeared first on /Film.