Metro Weekly

How Kyle Edward Ball Tapped into Nightmares for ‘Skinamarink’

Kyle Edward Ball's viral horror sensation 'Skinamarink' is getting a theatrical run for one week before streaming on Shudder.


Inside the quiet suburban home, and single location, of writer-director Kyle Edward Ball’s enthralling horror film Skinamarink, young siblings Kevin (Lucas Paul) and Kaylee (Dali Rose Tetrault) are lovingly put to bed by their dad (Ross Paul). They later wake up in the middle of the night to find he’s vanished. The two children are alone. Or so it seems.

They also find the pitch-dark house’s doors and windows aren’t where they’re supposed to be, and, more alarmingly, after a bit of time, that some presence lurks inside the house with them. A childhood nightmare shot in grainy, lo-fi ’70s style, the film comes, appropriately enough, from a filmmaker uncommonly devoted to translating chilling dreamscapes into onscreen horror.

“In my mid-twenties, I started a YouTube channel called Bitesized Nightmares, where people would comment nightmares and I would recreate them,” says Ball. Through creating those video shorts, he honed his strengths and learned his weaknesses as a filmmaker.


“I also developed this style of kind of implying instead of showing,” he says. Recreating strangers’ nightmares, Ball found his own artistic voice, influenced by directors from Stanley Kubrick to experimental-film godfather Stan Brakhage and cinema rebel John Waters.

“Kind of by accident, I learned what scared people, because it’s their nightmares,” he adds, explaining how comments on the channel offered a wide-open window into other people’s fears, as well as insights into his own.

“The weird thing about nightmares is they are things that we create and things that we don’t create, because you have it unconsciously,” Ball says. “So a nightmare is something that your mind comes up with, but you don’t intentionally think of. It’s your body and brain and psyche saying, ‘This is what scares you.’ And through the channel, I learned what other people’s psyches are saying, ‘This is what scares you.’ Over time, I had unintentionally stumbled upon a unique psychological study that I wasn’t even trying to do.”

Fueled by nightmare visions, Ball completed his first feature film Skinamarink, which premiered in July 2022 at Montréal’s Fantasia Film Festival, and instantly caused a stir. The movie screened virtually at a different festival soon after, and was pirated, then shared online, where the shocker that Vice Magazine called “the most terrifying film of the year” became a viral sensation. It was a double-edged sword for Ball.


“Within 24 hours of it going live on the online festival,” says the director, “I was searching Twitter for Skinamarink — egotistical, I know — but I saw that some Twitter account had a long list of ‘Here’s all the movies that were pirated today. Here’s an illegal link of where you can watch it.’ So I panicked.” Ball emailed the film festival, which immediately took everything down.

“And then over time, the movie kept getting shared heavily and blowing up more and more and more. I was afraid at first, because I thought it might put the Shudder deal that we had signed a few months before this in question.”

To Shudder’s credit, the company’s execs quickly signaled their continuing support of the film, telling Ball not to “freak out” about the leak — which actually might have burnished the film’s growing reputation. Still, Ball is keen to ensure that the same fate doesn’t befall his next film — definitely a horror movie, definitely experimental, he reveals — or anyone else’s.

“There’s any number of great movies that aren’t like Skinamarink, and don’t have kind of an amazing guerrilla marketing community built into the movie. There are other movies where they might not be as lucky as Skinamarink, right? So be careful out there,” he warns.

“In a nutshell, I wasn’t happy that it got pirated, obviously, but I’m very happy that people love the movie, and have responded to the movie. I can’t wait to see, when it plays in the theater, it find a whole new audience again.”

Skinamarink is playing in select theaters for one week only, from Jan. 13 to 19, including the AMC Georgetown and the AFI Silver in Silver Spring, Md. Visit

It will be available for streaming starting Feb. 2, exclusively on Shudder. Visit

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