Welcome to Knockout Horror and to another Ending Explained. Today we are going to be looking at the ending of Skinamarink.
This is one of those articles you sort of dread writing. When watching Skinamarink. It became clear that it would require an Ending Explained article. The movie is just utterly bizarre. It is obvious that this is deliberate on the part of the creator. The vague, dream like, presentation is very much by design.
Director Kyle Ball designed this movie to be open to interpretation. He wanted people to come up with their own explanation for events. I often attribute this to lazy writing. It’s so easy to leave something open to interpretation so you don’t have to write a conclusive ending. In Skinamarink, however, it actually fits.
A Nightmarish Beginning
Ball based this movie on a nightmare he had as a child. He was alone in his home. His parents had vanished and a monster was in his house. Dreams are always vague. Nothing ever really makes sense in them and Skinamarink is a perfect recreation of that. The events take place sans continuity and sans logic.
With that in mind. We are going to have to approach this ending explained article slightly differently. We are going to have to speculate rather than explain. First of all, we will go over what has happened. Then we will get into the questions. As always, this article will contain tons of spoilers. If you haven’t watched the movie, check out our review of Skinamarink and watch it on Shudder. Let’s take a look.
Why is Skinamarink Called Skinamarink
We will start off with something simple. This is the obvious first question when it comes to this movie. Why is Skinamarink called Skinamarink? Well, the answer is as simple and unsatisfying as much of the movie itself. The name is a play on the title of a popular American pre-school sing-along song Skidamarink. Now this isn’t a thing over here in the UK. Or, at least, it wasn’t back when I was in school. Apparently, in the US, it is a very popular song for young children.
Originally titled Skiddy-Mer-Rink-A-Doo. Or Skid-dy-mer-rink-adink-aboomp depending on your interpretation of the song’s farcical lyrics. It was written for a Broadway play titled The Echo back in 1910. As the years went on, it was adopted as something of a nursery rhyme. Director Kyle Ball recalls hearing the song in Cat On a Hot Tin Roof when he was a child. He says that the song always resonated with him.
I first heard it when the Gregory Brothers Songified DaymDrop. His unbridled joy at eating food from Five Guys Burgers and Fries leads him to sing the children’s rhyme. That song resonates strongly with me when my fiancée and I are partying with friends and drunk enough to sing.
Kyle Ball Likes The Phrase
Ball claims that he was taken by the sound of the phrase. The use of hard Ks and the fact that it was royalty free. He decided to change the spelling when using it as the title for his horror film. He wanted to avoid children stumbling on the movie while looking for the song. That’s a really nice thing to do.
It’s a bit of a shame that the title is inconsequential though. It has nothing to do with the movie. There is no relevance here. It just works because its a kid’s song and the protagonists here are children. It fits and that is all. Sometimes simple is best, though.
So What Happens in Skinamarink
Despite Skinamarink’s long, 100 minute, runtime. Very little actually happens. Skinamarink is what is known as Slow Cinema. Designed to trap you in a world and force you to engage in it. There is minimal narrative and a strong focus on long, drawn out, shots.
Skinamarink is set in 1995, the question is, why? This is likely due to the fact that the director is in his late 20s, early 30s, and relates to that time period. Remember, this movie is based on a nightmare he had as a child. It is basically a recreation of that nightmare with extra sauce for flavour. Toys from his childhood are used in the film. The furniture and TV are reminiscent of the era. It is obvious that the mid 90s resonates with him. This is as opposed to it being inline with the growing media obsession with the 90s.
The story follows siblings Kevin, four, and Kaylee, six. Things open with a brief moment of exposition from the children’s dad. Kevin has, apparently, hit his head while sleepwalking. He has been to the hospital but didn’t require stitches. His father brought him back home and he is, seemingly, fine. This will play into some of the speculation later on. For now, keep in mind that Kevin has hurt his head.
Something Feels Off for Kevin and Kaylee
So the siblings experience a number of strange events during the night. First of all, they wake up and their parents are gone. Kind of strange but what is even more strange is that other objects in the house are vanishing as well. Windows, doors, the toilet. This takes place right in front of their eyes and they draw each other’s attention to it.
Kevin suggests that the pair sleep downstairs. They grab their duvets and plant themselves in front of the television. The pair aim to sit this out watching some good, old fashioned, royalty free cartoons.
The kids are woken again by a loud bumping noise. When they examine the source, they find a chair stuck to the ceiling. Kevin asks Kaylee where their dad has gone. She replies that she doesn’t know. Kevin wonders whether their dad has gone with their mom. Kaylee replies that she doesn’t want to talk about their mum.
Why Doesn’t Kaylee Want to Talk About Their Mom?
Kaylee doesn’t want to talk about their mum. This creates a question of where the children’s mum is? On top of this, it also begs the question why Kaylee doesn’t want to speak about her? It would seem like something hurtful has happened. Maybe Kevin and Kaylee’s mum doesn’t live with them anymore? Perhaps the children have been left under the care of their father. Could it have been through a marital affair? Maybe she simply didn’t want to raise the children any more? Could she be deceased? All of these things are a possibility. I think the likely explanation is that she has simply left the family leaving the kids with their dad.
This would explain who the dad was talking to on the phone. He was likely calling their mother to tell her what happened. He is in charge of looking after the kids permanently now. Kevin seems to realise that their mum has gone. Despite this, he seems to not understand why. The older Kaylee, apparently, has a better idea of why she is gone. She seems resentful of the fact to the point where she doesn’t wish to talk about her anymore. This will play into events coming up. For now, remember that the kid’s mother is not in the house. Also keep in mind that she is a figure of hurt for Kaylee.
Things Turn More Sinister
Kevin notices that the toilet is missing in the downstairs bathroom. They head upstairs so Kevin can take care of business. While he is in the toilet, Kaylee notices a doll of hers on the ceiling. Kevin tells Kaylee that he is too scared to use the upstairs bathroom. The pair place a couple of buckets in the downstairs bathroom to use as toilets. As Kevin exclaims – “gross!”.
Things become much more sinister as Kaylee hears a voice calling her upstairs. This isn’t the voice of the children’s mother or father, though. It is a more sinister voice of an unknown origin. Kaylee heads upstairs leaving Kevin watching the TV. This leads to one of the more effective horror scenes in recent memory. Kaylee heads upstairs to investigate while Kevin stays downstairs.
A Frightening Event for Kaylee
Kaylee enters her parents bedroom where the voice, seemingly, emanated from. She spots her Dad sitting on the edge of the bed. In a chilling moment, he tells her to look under the bed. Kaylee looks under the bed but doesn’t see anything. He tells her to look again. She still doesn’t see anything. When she brings her head back up. She is shocked to see her dad gone and her mother now sitting on the bed. She is facing away from her and speaking quietly. A loud bang interrupts her.
Kaylee looks towards the closet in the corner. Spotting nothing irregular, she turns back to her mother who carries on speaking. She tells Kaylee that her and their father love them both very much. A fairly odd statement, given the context. We will go into this a little further in a sec.
Kaylee’s mother asks her to close her eyes. She does so. When she opens her eyes again her mother is gone. Moans and creaks can be heard coming from the closet. A strange voice whispers. She hears her mother cry “there’s someone here”. She tells Kaylee to go back downstairs. We hear more moans and the sound of bones cracking. Kaylee heads back downstairs and we are left unsure as to what has happened.
What Happened to Kaylee in the Bedroom?
Taking a look at that segment. The events are somewhat strange and could hint at a couple of things. We can tell that this situation is far from ordinary. With that in mind, we are going to assume something bad is going on. For that reason. We can deduce that there is something odd about the things the mother says to Kaylee.
The statement Kaylee’s mum makes about loving them both very much. Sounds at least a little like the type of thing a parent might say to a child before divorce. You know, when a parent will explain to the kids that they aren’t to blame? “We both love you very much. This isn’t your fault. Mummy and Daddy have just fallen out of love”. That type of thing. It could be further evidence that the couple have divorced. Again, explaining why their mother doesn’t live with them.
Could It Be Something More Sinister?
This could also be hinting at a couple of far darker scenarios. Perhaps Kaylee and Kevin are victims of abuse. The “You know we love you very much” conversation is often used by abusers to manipulate victims. Especially child victims. Convincing them that they harm them out of love. Perhaps it was Kaylee’s mum that hurt Kevin? Maybe that is why Kaylee doesn’t want to talk about her. Maybe that is why she isn’t home?
The moaning and bone cracking coming from the closet could also hint that their mum is a victim of abuse. Maybe their dad has done something to her. Maybe Kaylee or Kevin heard it but didn’t see what happened. They maybe asked what was going on but were told to go downstairs. The mum could have been badly hurt or even worse. This would have, perhaps, lead to the father telling the children that their mum left. Abandoning them. Like much in Skinamarink, these events are open to interpretation.
Kaylee Mysteriously Disappears
Obviously scared by what has happened. Kaylee does not reply to Kevin when he asks her what she was doing. She simply asks him to help her move the couch. The pair block off the hall. We can assume that this is to prevent whatever was talking to Kaylee from harming them. This would probably be futile. Remember, though, these are children. They would likely be unaware of how ineffective this would be.
When Kevin falls asleep, the voice calls to Kaylee once again. When Kevin wakes up, Kaylee is gone. All sorts of things from the house are stuck to the wall. VHS tapes, Lego, toys. Everything that has been providing comfort to the children. The voice then begins calling to Kevin.
Kevin heads down to the basement. While there, he sees Kaylee’s face. She has no eyes or mouth. Kevin runs out of the basement back to the living room. The voice begins to call to him again. The toys in the house disappear and the kitchen drawer opens. The voice tells Kevin that it wants to play. It tells him to put a knife in his eye. We hear Kevin sobbing so it can be assumed he complied. We also see blood on the cupboard door.
A Desperate Call for Help
Kevin phones the police. He tells them he has been hurt with a knife and that he feels sick. The operator asks him why he is whispering. Kevin can’t tell him. The operator tells Kevin that grown ups will be with him shortly. Kevin says he is downstairs but the doors have gone. All of a sudden the phone drops on the floor and transforms into a Chatter Telephone toy. It is apparent that the mysterious voice changed the phone so Kevin couldn’t get help. Kevin asks the voice if he did that and how? The voice tells Kevin he did do it. He can do anything he wants.
The voice tells Kevin that Kaylee didn’t do what he told her. She said to the voice that she wanted her parents so he took away her mouth. The voice tells Kevin to come upstairs. Kevin grabs a flashlight and does what the voice tells him. The voice tells Kevin it is okay and that he will protect him. All of a sudden, he realises he is on the ceiling. The voice tells him to keep going. Kevin walks along the ceiling into his bedroom. In his bedroom, Kevin hears growls in the distant. His bedroom then transforms into a black void.
572 Days Later
A note indicates to us that 572 days have passed. All of the toys and some furniture from the house are now on the ceiling. The camera pans out down an endless hallway. We see, what looks like, Kaylee sitting on a bed. It may actually be Kevin’s mother, though. We see a flashlight being pointed into various areas of the house. It seems it is, perhaps, Kevin crawling on the ceiling looking around the house. A vague, indistinct, face appears in the darkness. It suddenly transforms into the Chatterbox Telephone toy from earlier.
A voice whispers throughout the house. We see photos of people who appear to be missing their faces. We hear Kevin cry and suddenly blood spatter covers the floor. It disappears and reappears again a number of times. Kevin screams for his mother. Kevin asks if he can watch something happy. We then see a door which opens to reveal an indistinct face. It tells Kevin to sleep and Kevin asks the voice its name. It doesn’t reply.
So What is Going On?
Okay, so this is where things get a little complicated. This film is supposed to be vague. It is supposed to be open to interpretation. Ball wants the viewer to come up with their own scenarios for what is happening. He wants viewers to use their imaginations and apply their own ideas to the events. The truth of the matter is, that isn’t particularly satisfying. If you are looking for a concrete answer on what happened. You are unlikely to find one.
So what do I think it is? Well, we need to go through a couple of scenarios to come to that conclusion. We have four things to look at. The potential that the monster is real. We have the head injury theory. The abuse theory and the nightmare theory. Let’s start with the monster being real theory.
So this one is simple. There is an actual monster. It haunts the children. It killed their parents, it then kills Kaylee before trapping Kevin indefinitely. The voice you hear is the monster’s. It is causing the doors and windows to vanish. It makes the toys and objects stick to the ceiling and makes Kevin hurt himself. The simple reason being, it can. As long as Kevin does what it says, it will let him live. It will torture him repeatedly, though. Killing him before bringing him back to life so it can kill him again.
Was It a Result of The Head Injury?
Onto the head injury theory. It is indicated early on in the movie that Kevin has suffered a head injury. His dad informs the person on the phone that Kevin is okay and back home. This could lead to one of two explanations for events here. The first is that Kevin is suffering from a concussion. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury, albeit a minor one. It is caused by the brain bouncing against the inside of the skull. Perhaps Kevin is back home but suffering from the effects of a brain injury. As a consequence, the things he is seeing are part of his dreams. They are just more disturbed than normal due to the injury.
The other possibility is that the things he sees are the result of something far worse. Perhaps Kevin is actually in a coma. He never returned home at all. Kevin hears his father’s voice because he is with him in the hospital. He hears his sister’s voice for the same reason. All of the events take place as a result of Kevin’s comatose state. The 572 days note hints at how long he has been in a coma. He is trapped inside his own head, completely alone and haunted by the things he has seen. Perhaps a complicated homelife explains the issues with his mother in the dream. Perhaps she was abusive, manifesting as a monster. Tormenting him throughout his time comatose.
Is It An Allegory for Abuse?
Another possibility is that Skinamarink is an allegory for abuse. Kevin’s mum doesn’t appear to be present. Is it possible that she caused Kevin’s injury? It is common to explain away abuse as the result of simple injuries around the house. The children’s mother is portrayed in somewhat of a sinister manner. Kaylee doesn’t want to talk about her for some reason. Maybe she hurt Kevin and their dad kicked her out. When the mother asks Kaylee to close her eyes, it is undeniably sinister. In fact, it causes Kaylee to run downstairs and barricade the room. Shortly after that, Kaylee isn’t seen again.
The voice tells Kevin that Kaylee wouldn’t do what it told her. So it took away her mouth. This is reminiscent of something that an abuser would say to control. “Do what I say because look what happened to your sister”. Maybe the mother has become a monster to the children. That could be her voice at the end telling Kevin to go to sleep.
Or is it actually the dad who is the abuser? Did the dad harm Kevin and kill their mum? He could have simply told Kaylee that Kevin fell and the mum has left. Hence Kaylee not wanting to talk about their mum. Kaylee hears their mum screaming from the closet and the sound of bones breaking. Perhaps this is what Kevin heard before his accident. Perhaps Kevin hearing this caused their dad to attack him. The result left him with a fragmented memory of the events. The 572 days refers to the length of time the abuse has been ongoing. The voice at the end telling him to go to sleep could be his dad.
Or Was It All a Nightmare?
The last possibility is that this is all a bad dream. Kevin hurt himself sleep walking. They have returned home from the hospital. It is likely late. Kevin is probably feeling a bit shit and falls asleep. The stress induces a nightmare that encompasses some of the real life trauma he is facing. The doors and windows disappearing are a simple part of the strange nature of dreams. The timeless sequence of events reflects the lack of continuity when you are asleep.
The parents appearing without faces represents how people can appear strangely in dreams. Sometimes with features missing or just looking unfamiliar or different. Kaylee doesn’t want to talk about their mother because she has actually left. Kevin desires his mother’s nurture which comes through in the dream. He sees her and she reminds them how much she loves them. Perhaps those were the final words she said before she left? He still calls for her when he is scared.
But What About the Monster?
The monster in his dreams could simply be a part of the nightmare. A manifestation of the obvious trauma he is going through in real life. Remember, divorce is hard on young children. The real life damage being done to Kevin’s mental health. May just be manifesting in his sleep.
The monster can make him do anything and threatens what he cares about most. His family. The toys and cartoons play a big part in the dream because he is a child. They are important to him. The things happening to the siblings, again, reflect the abstract nature of dreams.
The person telling him to go to sleep is likely his dad. Perhaps Kevin sleepwalked into the room his dad was in. His dad may have been watching a horror movie. Hence the blood spatter and the request to watch something happy. His dad refuses and takes him back to bed, telling him to go to sleep. Hence the long hallway and the door. It is all simply a dream, albeit a horrible one.
Skinamarink Is Likely, Simply, A Bad Dream
In my opinion, I think the final theory is, actually, the most likely. For me, this is the explanation of Skinamarink’s ending. I will get into the reasons why in a little. I believe the truth is that the whole thing is a simple nightmare. Kevin’s accident suggests that he suffers from a parasomnia. In this case, Sleepwalking. Most people who suffer from one parasomnia are prone to suffering from a few. Sleepwalkers often also struggle with sleep paralysis, for example. Perhaps Kevin is also prone to nightmares. During stressful times, parasomnias become much worse. People will have more nightmares. People will sleepwalk much more often.
It is likely the family has some problems. I would suggest, due to the father making the call in the beginning of the movie. That Kevin and Kaylee’s parents have divorced and their mother has left. Kevin’s father has custody of the siblings. The pair of them desire a relationship with their mother. Their mother is, however, rejecting them. Despite telling them she loves them both very much when she left. Kaylee is older and far more capable of understanding the rejection. She doesn’t want to talk about her mother. Maybe her dad is telling her negative things about her mum, as well. Kevin lives in hope that she will return.
A Drawn Out Nightmare
Kevin yearns for his mother’s love in his nightmare. He calls for her to protect him. The monster in his dreams is simply a part of his nightmare. Perhaps a manifestation of the mother’s neglect. At times, the face related to it looks somewhat like his mum’s featureless face. It tortures him while he sleeps.
The fact that we see things from Kaylee’s point of view is easily explained. When we dream, we tend to be omnipotent. Able to see as if we are invisible. Capable of being both anywhere and everywhere. The height of the camera doesn’t seem to change to reflect the fact that Kaylee is taller. I believe we are still seeing things from Kevin’s perspective. It is simply part of his dream. The hallways he sees are, perhaps, a result of him sleepwalking. His dad finds him sleepwalking and takes him back to bed. Telling him to “go to sleep” at the end of the film.
This is The Creator’s Niche
I think the biggest justification for this explanation is in the creator himself. Ball ran a YouTube channel recreating user’s nightmares. This is actually his niche. This is what Ball does. Ball based the movie on a nightmare he had as a child. A nightmare common to children in general. He was alone in his house, his parents were gone and a monster was in the house. It’s simple, effective and very relatable. Why not try and bring that to life in movie form? The result is Skinamarink.
Although not particularly satisfying. I believe that is the truth of this movie. It can be summarised thusly. Director who made YouTube videos recreating people’s nightmares. Made a feature film recreating a nightmare he had as a child. Occam’s Razor applies here.
An Impressive Feat
The fact that Ball condenses so many possibilities into one movie is impressive. I think he truly understands the essence of horror. I am sure, if you asked him, he would say that there is no explanation for the events of Skinamarink. It is entirely up to the viewer. You are supposed to devote thought and imagination to it. What happens is actually up to your interpretation. I mean, after all, isn’t your imagination the most powerful horror tool in the world?
Remember those creaks in the hallway you heard as a child? Have you ever experienced that type of visceral terror again as an adult? That unrelenting, irrational, unquestioning fear of the unknown. That’s what Skinamarink is trying to tap into. Thanks for reading. I know this was a huge article. It might sound a little crazy given the fact that you stuck with this. But I suggest you discount my interpretation of the movie and replace it with your own. The true explanation for the events in Skinamarink is quite simple. It is whatever scares you the most.