Thursday, November 19, 2009



INK is a wonderful R-Rated, dream-world fantasy with panache to burn. It is filmed through a washed-out lens which gives the film a ghostly, slightly distorted quality and allows a comfortable jump from reality to the spirit realm. The effects are fun to watch and hear. Yes, hear. There is a Zippo lighter sound sample that is harnessed so ingeniously that it is no longer a Zippo lighter sample; it becomes something new. INK, with a flurry of visual effects, secure plot, and eerie settings, creates a new world that I want to see more of.

The opening two scenes start the seriously human, emotional pieces of machinery churning. John (Chris Kelly) is leaving his place of work. He is stressed, driving, and screaming the f-word at the top of his lungs. The second scene begins with John and his single-digit-aged daughter, Emma (Quinn Hunchar), who is waking him up the morning of his day off.

“I worked 80 hours this week. What did you do?” He asks.

The dynamic explored between the two is characterized by John’s resistance to interaction with his daughter and her push for interaction. It is sentimental and painful. It illustrates what is wrong with being an adult and what is right about taking care of a child’s needs. When the scene fades and the title “INK” is centered on the screen, the viewer really has no idea where the film is going.

The next leg of the film explains the hazy look of everything as the good (“storytellers”) and the evil (“incubi”) of the dream world come to impart good and bad dreams to those that sleep. What is made clear is that the storytellers who deal in good dreams (by a mere brush of the hand to a sleeping face) are far more plentiful than the bad (who encase the nightmaree in a tarlike cloud).

There is something amiss in the sleep world, though. Ink, a tinkling, chain-wearing, heavily shnozzed (you will have to see this beak to believe it) individual wrapped in a tattered black Obi-Wan robe, shows up to kidnap Emma’s soul. With a two-fingered jab to Emma’s forehead, Ink loosens her spirit. Blowing through a window (that re-panes itself, a regular effect in this film) comes Allel (Jennifer Batter) to protect Emma. Ink is neither storyteller nor incubi. But he is a definite brawler, and a fight ensues. More storytellers appear and enter the fight. The fight itself is a stylistic, heavily edited and satisfying sequence with lots of destroyed objects springing back to their original form. Ink ultimately gets away with Emma.

The rest of the film serves as an explanation for Ink’s behavior and what is done throughout the ranks of the storytellers to save Emma. Throughout the film, the incubi and the storytellers ramp up their efforts to either snare or free Emma. The ranks of the storytellers are loosely explained, such as the pathfinders like Jacob (Jeremy Make) whose eyes are electrical-taped shut but can somehow physically affect the land of the awake. Jacob and Allel are on a mission to save Emma from Ink. This mission is also embraced by a martyr storyteller named Liev (Jessica Duffy).

INK, in its most distilled, definable form, is a fantasy story that exists outside of consciousness and time. It is also a tale of good versus evil on what seems to be some sort of bizarre spiritual footing. The storytellers can be construed as angels and the incubi as demons, but there is a lot more going on than just that.

Consequences for bad behavior are presented. And as the film closes in on the history and identity of Ink, the audience is pulled through a harrowing example of a professional and personal life in ruin and its unfortunate blast radius. The emotional landscape of life is explored in this film: falling in and out of love, regret, failure, redemption and hatred. INK delivers a cornucopia of insights into feelings conveyed through memories and dreams.

For a low-budget film, INK generates money-shot after money-shot, all with solid replay value. Stark imagery and the use of a black and white frame over the faces of the otherwise in-color incubi are above and beyond the call of duty here. The black and white faces of the incubi (which look curiously like DR. STRANGELOVE) shimmer and warble. A particular car accident is so badass that it could very well become the next great visual Internet meme.

There is an obvious amount of love, commitment and determination dripping from this project. Jamin Winans, the screenplay writer/director, has obviously booted the Hollywood door open with this one. He deserves all of the bigtime attention he pulls for this original piece of cinema. While sampling elements of DARK CITY, THE MATRIX, ALTERED STATES, DREAMSCAPE and basically any other science fiction film that deals with consciousness and its potential to be put on hold, INK finds its own place.

Unfortunately, INK did not have a theatrical release, but it is a cool independent film that could be the start of a franchise. It is well-written and, outside of a few moments of awkward acting and perhaps running ten to twenty minutes too long, really holds it own against any number of Hollywood blockbusters at the multiplex today. This film leaves the viewer with several concepts to think about long after the crawl of credits. It is films like these that give me hope for cinema in the future. Creativity, style, and above all, an original plot make INK well worth the rental or purchase. Even better, this would be worthwhile to see on the big screen for a late night showing at an independent theater.

-Mediasaurus Rex

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