Written and directed by Jamin Winans, Ink is a surreal fantasy film that shines the light on those that control both our dreams and our nightmares. There's the good - they are called the Storytellers, and they're the ones behind all of our happiest dreams. Then there are the bad - they are known as Incubi, and the Incubi are the ones that cause us to have our worst nightmares. Then there is the ugly - his name is Ink, and he is a damaged man who has gone down a path that has put him in a place where he wants to become one of the Incubi. And to do so, Ink must find a sacrifice that will satisfy the Incubi so they will allow Ink into their fold. Ink's sacrifice would become Emma (Quinn Hunchar), a young girl who Ink kidnaps from her own dreams, only to bring her to an alternate dream realm, leaving her physical being in a comatose state.
The Storytellers must to use the help of a man known as The
Pathfinder to help find and rescue Emma from Ink and her impending
sacrifice. They cannot do it alone as they need help from someone in
the real world, someone that loves Emma but is too clouded in his own ego to do the
right thing. That would be John (Chris Kelly), Emma's estranged father. John has some very serious personal issues such as a raging work related God complex and an incredible anger he fosters for losing custody of Emma due to his abuse of alcohol and drugs after his wife's tragic death.
To say Ink is ambitious would be underselling it big time, and the fact that this film cost about $250k to make is an incredibly impressive feat all its own. Along with being the writer and director, Jamin Winans edited the film as well as composed the amazing original soundtrack. He also served as the films co-producer with Kiowa K. Winans, who is credited for the Art Direction, Costume and Sound Design of this very grass roots film.
Shot by cinematographer Jeff Pointer, Ink has a visual style that would best be described as Sin City though the eyes of Terry Gilliam. The intense style used is a wise choice in that is helps hide the low budget look of the film, which is still apparent no matter what. One of the issues I had with the film initially is the erratic camera work and quick editing style. However, this is probably the only way to do what was done and make it look bigger than they could make it with the low budget, so they get a pass. Plus, hate it or not, it is well done for this style and everything flows pretty well and gets better throughout the film.
Some of the performances are very good (for what they are), namely the young girl who plays Emma, Quinn Hunchar. Jessica Duffy is more than capable as she portrays Liev, a Storyteller that becomes a hostage of Ink when she tries to unsuccessfully rescue Emma from her eventual sacrifice. Her character and Emma have some genuinely tender moments together that could have been totally cheesy, but they worked very well and added to Duffy's character and here selflessness. Chris Kelly, who plays Emma's issue ridden father, John is very solid too and carries a lot of the emotional baggage in Ink and he does so quite effectively. There are a few weak performances to go along with the better ones, and the most annoying comes from Jeremy Make, who plays Jacob, The Pathfinder. He's just very over the top and reminded me of a second rate Dane Cook, which is not really a good thing even if it was first rate.
The Pathfinder does bring me to another important facet of Ink and this is what makes The Pathfinder bearable for me. He is a blind character with an ability to see by using the rhythm of the Earth, or the rhythm of life as it were. That rhythm leads to an awesome scene of chain reactions that had me floored with how it unfolded and how it was created on every level. From the way it looked, the way things happened, and the way that The Pathfinder almost orchestrates the events had me caught up in the as they unfolded and connected to an earlier event in the movie.
There is not that much action in this film at all and most of the action is at the beginning and then at the end. This is where the choppy film style comes together quite perfectly as the real world and the quasi dream realm collide for an interesting cause and effect fight scene between the Incubi and the Storytellers. Light on the tough stuff this film may be, but what it brought instead of flying fists is what I loved about Ink. $250,000 fucking dollars this film cost and it brought more emotional impact than all but maybe three films I have seen this year. One film that came to mind for its story of good versus evil and its stylistic ambition was Night Watch (a film I hate), which had a budget of 4 MILLION dollars and couldn't achieve a sliver of what Ink could dish out in spoonfuls as far as passion and heart.
Heart is something that is to be almost neglected or done poorly in an action adventure/fantasy film and that is the transcendental element of this movie, it is not afraid to be an impact full story. Not a love story, but a story of love and fear and being unsure of ones self. It is a story of being alone by choice and why that choice is made, and how it can affect the ones around you and even the ones that are not around you. Personal greed and selflessness are major themes in Ink and I was emotionally touched by this moving modern day fairytale, as it was able to greatly exceed its meager budget with passion, care, and honesty.
This film is getting a small amount of buzz on teh webs and I hope to contribute to this buzz a little. This is an emotionally charged film that I would love to see get the support it deserves. Ink is available from all the usual places and better yet, it's on Netflix instant watch, so if you have access, you can watch it that way too. Here is a link to the film's website if you would like some more info on the movie and I hope everyone checks out this independent gem.