Where I Watched It: AMC Plus

English Audio Description?: No

You may have heard about this little indie that could. It has fans. Some critics love it. Some people hate it. There’s an argument that the film has no plot,. I’ve heard others thoughts on this film, and I’ve processed all of that information. Truth be told, this film is the most unwatchable thing I’ve ever experienced, for a very specific reason.

That reason is AMC Plus and Shudder are resistant to providing accessibility to their audiences. I was told by reps from AMC Plus that they would be expanding this audio description offerings beyond the three things that had it when I started my annual plan. That really hasn’t been my experience.

In fact, after I watched this, I fast tracked my YouTube video (it’s easier and quicker to put out), and found out from an individual in the AD community that they ironically had just been hired the other day to produce an audio description track for this film. As of now, that track is available on demand for this film, to the best of my knowledge. it is NOT available on AMC Plus/Shudder, further highlighting that this service does not care about blind and visually impaired consumers. Which is a shame, because Shudder has so much horror content, and the assumption that people go blind and stop liking things they liked before is asinine. There are plenty of blind users who would love for Shudder to make a huge commitment to audio description. AMC Plus has so many shows that are struggling to launch, and they limit their audience by lacking accessibility.

Skinamarink should be legally required to host audio description at all times. The film is unintelligible otherwise. There is almost no dialogue in the film, and when people do speak, it’s detached from ever being part of a larger conversation. This movie has no score. Sometimes you just sit in silence for 5-10 minutes, with absolutely no clue as to what is going on, because of the absence of sound. This is usually used in horror movies to allow jump scares. This film has one auditory jump scare, and the rest I would assume involve the visuals.

The audio quality of the film, which was made on a shoestring budget, is so intentionally terrible that I’m sure if there wasn’t the sound of a touch tone phone, I could have convinced someone this movie was made in the 1930’s, and poorly preserved just based on the audio experience alone.

Other sound effects include the sounds of footsteps, mostly obviously little children. The sound of someone walking through what sounds like legos on the floor, a TV that first plays something that is probably public domain, but sounds very Turner Classic Movies, followed by the kind of cartoon that Silly Symphonies were. Add to that a few lines of dialogue, some screams, and you’ve got the whole damn near two hour film.

It was fucking relentlessly inaccessible, and I watched the whole thing. It’s like being told to go jump off a bridge for two hours. And there is literally no excuse for this. This film was leaked online, where it gained notoriety and buzz, it cost nothing to make, and I am sure Shudder/AMC paid almost nothing for it. But when planning a theatrical release, one that elicited it landing in the top 10 at the box office, and making Shudder millions, at no point did they use any of that profit to think about accessibility. It wasn’t until after the fact that this film got audio description, and based on what I can see… it’s possible that Apple paid for the audio description for a film that isn’t even theirs. Why would AMC pay for audio description and then only give it to VOD, but not it’s own streaming service? The only logical answer is, after all the money they made, they still couldn’t be bothered to put audio description on what will probably be the biggest film Shudder will release this year, and one that already turned a profit.

This is why I’m here. Is to hold assholes accountable. I don’t know if the director, or anyone from the team that actually made this film even knows what audio description is, but it’s bullshit like this that reminds me every fucking day why I do this. Because if we stay silent, these companies are already geared to ignore us. They don’t want us. They’ve made that clear through their choices. But for the millions of people living with blindness or substantial visual loss, we deserve basic accessibility. And when AMC bitches about their lack of subscribers, or their profit margins, remember that this is not an inclusive company.

This is a company that made millions from a film that cost less to make than it would to buy a car, and still found an excuse to avoid doing the right thing.

Final Grade: Unwatchable

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