A film made in Edmonton has been reviewed by the New Yorker, The Atlantic and Rolling Stone, and has now grossed over a million dollars at the box office.
The debut film from director Kyle Edward Ball, skinamarinkit has had sold-out showings in Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles with audience members calling it “the scariest thing they’ll ever see.”
The movie was shot at the director’s childhood home in Edmonton on a small budget of US$15,000 and may very well be the talk of the horror film world at this point.
John Kmech, the film’s associate producer, is also a newcomer to the world of film—his only other credit is on a documentary about the Edmonton Waste Management Facility—and he’s impressed by the support he’s received thus far.
“I don’t think anyone thought something like this was going to happen. It was really intended as his hometown film debut,” Kmech said.
The synopsis says that the movie is about two boys who wake up in the middle of the night to find that their father is missing and all the windows and doors in their house are gone.
Kmech became involved with the film after watching Ball’s YouTube channel, where the director brought nightmares to life. Ball would ask viewers to describe his nightmares in the comments, and in turn would make 5-minute videos that “look better with the lights off and headphones on,” according to the channel’s description, Bitesized Nightmares.
Skinamarink’s production was financed by online crowdfunding, generating around $8,500 in donations.
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Ball contacted Kmech when he had a first cut of the film in November 2021, because Kmech was the only person on the team who had not read the shooting script.
“Despite the fact that many people call this a found footage movie, I had a 96-page shooting script. Kyle planned it out and conceived it very closely,” he said.
Kmech saw it alone and said he was full of adrenaline and tension.
“I really think it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen on film before.”
Kmech said TikTok helped build buzz for the movie after it leaked online and creators began raving about the 100-minute film’s relentlessly creepy vibe.
“Some of the first reactions people had were saying ‘This is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen’…people saying 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 film, and that doesn’t leave them much time to plan future projects.
“I heard that he wants to start writing something else in the next few months once he can get over this initial rush. But I haven’t talked about anything, like this is really totally unexpected,” Kmech said.
Kmech mentioned another production that has put the province’s film and television industry on the map: The Last of Us, the HBO series that made Albertans proud after being filmed in various locations in Calgary and Edmonton.
“They’re really kind of the polar opposite, you know, one is a $15,000 micro-budget experimental movie 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 amazing.”
There are just two more opportunities to see Skinamarink in Edmonton, at the independent Metro Cinema, on January 29 and 31.
These screenings were added after the first performance sold out and caused lineups outside the theater, so feel free to buy your tickets online.
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