Skinamarink has caused something of a sensation since screening at festivals last year, and the ambiguous nature of the narrative means there are many theories regarding what the ending could mean – here, we break the best of them down.
Skinamarink had a festival run in 2022, followed by the film leaking online. Now the Canadian horror is in cinemas where it’s already grossed more than $1 million from a $15k budget, while the film will also be streaming on Shudder very soon.
The official synopsis is as follows: “Two children 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.”
Within that framework, although there are scares aplenty, very little is actually explained, meaning it’s up to the audience to fill in the blanks. Which fans have been doing via Reddit and social media. With the following some of the best theories…
Skinamarink ending: What happens?
Let’s start with a literal breakdown of what we see on screen in the ending of Skinamarink, in the order it happens.
First there are the photos. Via a kind-of slideshow, we see pictures of babies and toddlers – presumably the children at the center of the movie, Kevin and Kaylee. But there’s something wrong in the pictures, with the faces distorted, blurred, or missing.
Blood then splatters on the floor. It appears and disappears over and over again, as if the film shifting back-and-forth in time, as music, screams, and wails can be heard.
Over the image of a torch trained on a television, Kevin says to Kaylee “Can we watch something happy?” Then a face appears in the darkness, but it’s so faint that the features can’t be made out.
The visage says “Go to sleep” to Kevin, though it feels like the head is talking to us. “What’s your name?” Kevin asks, twice. Then the face disappears into the darkness, and “The End” appears onscreen.
The demon theory
There’s a demon, monster, or ghost, terrorizing the children. This is definitely what’s happening on a superficial level, as writer-director Kyle Edward Bell made reference to the entity in a recent interview.
“There are many parts of the movie where I have a set idea of what the monster is doing and what’s happening to a person, and why,” Bell tells Fangoria. “I’m not going to say what those are, but yes, there are some concrete things I have in my mind, and there are other parts where I don’t even know the answer. Like the look-under-the-bed scene. I don’t know where a lot of that came from.”
But is the monster literal, or is there something more metaphorical at play?
The dead theory
At the start of the film, Kevin’s father says the child fell down the stairs and hit his head. Which inspired this theory on Reddit:”I think the implication is possibly that Kevin’s fall down the stairs resulted in his death and that he’s trapped in a hell-like nightmarish afterlife.”
This would thematically tie the film to Bell’s previous short Heck. BUT, during that same phone call, Dad says Kevin is fine. So if he’s telling the truth, Kevin is very much alive.
The concussion theory
Another Redditor states: “I was just thinking about the whole ‘he hit his head’ thing: with how little dialogue there is in this film, and how a lot of it almost feels like non-sequiturs, I assume there’s some serious relevance to his injury and how everything played out.”
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Kevin could seem fine, as Dad states, but be suffering from a concussion that’s messing with his brain, causing him to move around in a confused state, and hear/see things that aren’t actually there.
That head injury could also see him slip into a coma after the phone call. Which is another popular theory…
The coma theory
We Got This Covered has this one covered, the website claiming: “Kevin’s fall down the stairs resulted in him being trapped in a coma. As a result, it’s believed that everything Kevin is experiencing – his sister’s face disappearing, his parents being too far to find, and a strange voice whispering to him – is the manifestation of his subconscious.”
Towards the end of the film, “572 Days” appears onscreen. Is this the amount of time Kevin has been in the coma?
The demon would therefore be something that Kevin is dreaming, and the end of the movie finds the boy finally succumbing to his injures.
The abuse theory
This is the darkest theory, positing that the children are being abused by one – or both – of their parents.
That would explain the aforementioned injury to Kevin. While everything else that unfolds could be the kids escaping into a dark fantasy world to avoid – or cope – with reality.
This theory has also found its way onto Reddit, with one viewer writing: “The whole thing feels very allegorical to some sort of dysfunctional/abusive family to me, while still retaining some elements of some kind of haunting situation. For me, the more I looked for answers as to what was happening, the more distressed I was that the truth of the matter may be more of an allegory to a real-life horror than merely some monster in the dark.”
How Skinamarink nearly ended
Those are just a few of the many theories out there, as the ambiguous nature of Skinamarink means the ending is very much open to interpretation. Which is something Bell is happy with.
Speaking to Inverse, the writer-director says: “I’ve had people DM me like, ‘What? So what is this?’ Also, it doesn’t matter what I think anymore. Now it’s your movie. When I was shooting and editing it, I was like, ‘This is how I want the viewer to feel.’ It’s been so amazing seeing people actually feel the way I planned it.”
But the frights – and this ending – changed throughout the process, with Bell revealing: “It takes time to get even the jump-scares. I had to go back and play with sound. [One] towards the end, that’s the nineteenth iteration of it. Originally, it was something completely different. That was originally not in the script. At one point, there’s a cartoon they’re watching that has a spider monster. Then I did something where I stole something from The Twilight Zone movie where it was going to be a giant eye. I went through a bunch of different iterations.”
Skinamarink is in cinemas now. You can find our favorite scares in the movie here, while everything else we know about the horror hit can be read here.