(15) Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Jamin Winans
Written by: Jamin Winans
Starring: Christopher Soren Kelly, Quinn Hunchar, Jessica Duffy
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
The problem I am going to have with reviewing Ink is that I must try and not give away too much of the plot. Ink is like a cross between Dark City, Donnie Darko and Nightwatch, it is a high concept, high art thriller that blurs the lines between reality and dreams, past and present and a Father and his daughter. There is so much goig on in Ink it is, at times, a little hard to follow but the sheer guts, ideas and originality on offer here deserve a round of applause. Ink is without doubt one of the most original, mind boggling and visually stimulating movies I have seen in a long long time so if you do plan to watch this, be prepared to be dazzled.
I have no idea how, but the film has been made on a fairly small budget, but to look at you’d never believe it. It was also released on an independent label so, sadly, this has kind of sprung out of nowhere and no one would blame you if you had not heard of it. John (Kelly) and Emma (Hunchar) are Father and Daughter and they live in a world where dreams can either be protected or made into nightmares, so to speak. While people sleep one side protects while the other sneaks around in the shadows and aims to make people suffer horrific nightmares. These forces are invisible to the human eye, although we can see them in our dreams, or can we? The main focus of the film is a character named Ink, a hideous monster who is desperate for Emma’s soul. He will offer up her soul as a gift to the nasty Incubi in order for them to let him in and to put an end to him roaming around in the dream world. One night he enters Emma’s bedroom while she sleeps and in a horrific scene, he comes out of the shadows and takes her. The forces of good are there to try and stop Ink, but he is powerful, a skilled fighter and one who will not give up easily. What follows is a race against time to save Emma’s soul from Ink, and in another story running almost parallel to this one, Emma’s Father John is facing his own problems in the dreamworld after a car accident.
Confused? Well, it does all come together throughout the film but you will have to keep up, and the final reveal is one I doubt you will guess and is all the more rewarding because it catches you off guard. But it is not just the story that makes Ink so special, the design of the film is out of this world. As the majority of the film is based in the cream world, everything looks dreams, with faint outlines and bright, dazzling lights. Without making it too obvious, the film allows you to tell the difference between worlds without forcing it down your throat. In the dream world, colours blend into other colours and the people who roam here have the powers to do rather impressive things. One of the stand out ideas for me was when Ink battles with the forces of good in Emma’s house. The fight scenes themselves are very impressive, with the camera working its way into the fight and then pulling back, or pausing for a second or slowing down, you certainly get to see what is happening, it even shakes to indicate impact of a kick or a punch. But what really blew me away when it first happened was the furniture in the house repairing itself as it breaks. Ink throws a girl through a glass table and the instant she stands up, the tables works backwards and goes back to normal, the same happens with everything that breaks because they are in the dreamworld. It is a fascinating idea and one which really works and really adds to the films sense of originality.
Characters are able to jump through holes in the air to transport, they can call other members to come and fight and everything about the fight scenes offers up something new and inventive and it look spectacular! In another superb scene we see a blind good guy playing with time and settings off a chain of events which has to be seen to be believed. Ink himself is a fascinating character, scared to show his ugly face but brutal as Hell in a fight, he is one tough bastard. The music as well drives the film in a way not witnessed by this reviewer in some time. The music is energetic, but also emotional and the final reveal actually had me close to tears simply because the powerful, ambient style music packed such a mighty wallop. Ink does have its faults though, there are, at times, too many ideas and it almost feels like the directors writing got the better of him and he could not keep up. Ink has a daft, massive nose that distracts and you can’t help but wander if it will fall off. At times the film feels a bit rushed, but for all these minor faults you will not see another movie this year, or indeed in the next few years quite like this. A highly recommended piece of real art, real originality and real ideas. Director Jamin Winans is most certainly one to watch, and considering this is only his second feature length film, there is a mountain of talent here. Expect really big things from this director, mark my words.