An Edmonton-made film has reviews from the New Yorker, The Atlantic and Rolling Stone — and now it’s made over a million dollars at the box office.
The debut film for director Kyle Edward Ball, Skinamarink, has had sold-out screenings in Toronto, New York and Los Angeles with audience members calling it ‘the scariest thing they’ve ever seen’.
The movie was filmed in the Edmonton director’s childhood home with a small budget of US$15,000 and is quite possibly the talk of the horror movie world right now.
John Kmech, associate producer on the film, is also a novice in the film world — his only other credit is on a documentary about Edmonton’s Waste Management Centre — and is blown away by the support so far.
“I don’t think anybody thought anything like this was going to happen. It was really just intended as his local feature film debut,” said Kmech.
The synopsis says the movie is about two children who wake up in the middle of the night to find their father is missing and all the windows and doors in their home have vanished.
Kmech got involved with the movie after seeing Ball’s YouTube channel, where the director made nightmares come to life. Ball would ask viewers to describe their nightmares in the comments and in turn would make 5-minute videos that are “best watched with the lights off and headphones on,” according to the description for the channel, Bitesized Nightmares.
The production of Skinamarink was crowdfunded online, making about $8,500 in donations.
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Ball reached out to Kmech when he had a first cut of the film done in November 2021, because Kmech was the only person on the crew who hadn’t read the shooting script.
“Despite the fact a lot of people are calling this a found footage film, it did have a 96-page shooting script. It was very tightly plotted and envisioned by Kyle,” he said.
Kmech watched it by himself and said he was full of adrenaline and tension.
“I really think it’s like really nothing I’ve ever seen in a film before.”
Kmech said TikTok helped create hype for the movie after it was leaked online and creators started raving about the relentlessly eerie ambience of the 100-minute film.
“Some of the early reactions that people were having were they were saying ‘This is the scariest thing that I’ve ever seen,’ … people who were saying that it made them cry,” he said.
As for what’s next for Kmech and Ball, they’re very busy thanks to the virality of their movie, and that isn’t leaving much time to plan future projects.
“I’ve heard that he wants to start writing something else in the next couple of months once he’s able to get past this initial rush. But I haven’t talked about anything — like this was really totally unexpected,” said Kmech.
Kmech mentioned another production that has put the province’s film and TV industry on the map: The Last of Us, the HBO series that had Albertans bursting with pride after it was filmed at several locations in Calgary and Edmonton.
“They’re really kind of polar opposite, you know, one is a $15,000, micro-budget experimental film and I think The Last of Us is one of the biggest TV productions ever,” he said.
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“But they were both filmed here. So I think that’s also incredible.”
There are only two more chances to see Skinamarink in Edmonton, at the indie theatre Metro Cinema, on Jan. 29 and 31.
These screenings were added after the first run sold out completely and prompted lineups outside the theatre, so don’t hesitate to get your tickets online.
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