Written and directed by Andy Stewart
A loner hobbles around a mini-market, getting his groceries, when he spots a young guy at the till with a tattoo on his wrist. Dropping his groceries, the loner pursues the man with lethal intentions in mind. Why? His obsession with INK.
Rounding off his body horror trilogy, critic-turned-filmmaker Andy Stewart is back with his 20 minute short film INK and if you’ve seen his previous works, DYSMORPHIA and SPLIT, then you’ll have an idea what to expect, though not even I was prepared for what wince-inducing visuals I was about to witness.
In each of Andy’s movies, he showcases the lives of a character who’s struggling mentally and emotionally, which ends up manifesting itself physically in some shape or form. Without ruining the plot, INK is about a young man who’s obsessed by body art. Nothing wrong with that, you might think. Lots of people out there have tattoos and many have more than one. Even director Andy himself has a fine display of art on his arms, featuring some of the finest horror icons put to screen. But in INK, the character’s love of the body art is a bit unstable, to say the least.
The loner lead of the film is played by Sam Hayman and what a fine actor he is, as he manages to convey a range of convincing emotions without uttering a single a word. His moans, groans and facial expression are all he needs to put a spotlight on his crazed addiction and the lengths he will pursue to achieve his desired goal. Producer Gordie Holliday and Austin Hayden, who both took the leads in the first two parts of the trilogy respectively, also make brief appearances in the short.
Cinematographer Alan C. McLaughlin, sound producer David McKeitch and Grant Mason FX should take a bow for a truly shocking piece of art. I can call it so, as whilst it is gory and difficult to watch at times, it’s also skilfully crafted. The sounds and visuals of the cutting, the tearing and the puss are both incredible to watch and frightfully disturbing at the same time, with the compulsion to close your eyes in the hope it’ll go away. I’d like to think I’m a hardened horror nut but I may be going soft in my 25 years of age, as I don’t think I’ve ever winced like I have with INK… ever.
Like a fine wine gets better with age, Andy Stewart’s films have progressed, becoming more complex and gorier with each outing. DYSMORPHIA was a mesmerising opener for Andy, and the entire film was shot in one room. In his second film, SPLIT, the character was still in one location, his flat, but he ventured from room to room. In INK, the lead character is unleashed from his abode and is out and about, living life in the outside world we venture in day by day, taking his issues to others, which makes the storyline that more horrifying. The way in which Andy’s movies have progressed in terms of location and space show how mental health issues can be something that a person keeps a secret or displays openly, and can force a person to live in solitude and hide away, whilst others are quite happy to live relatively ‘normal’ lives in the outside world with their illness bubbling away at the surface.
With his short films causing a buzz at film festivals around the world and collecting numerous awards, make it your goal to see Andy Stewart’s INK on its festival journey. You will not be disappointed!
After displaying so much talent in these short films, I look forward to seeing what Andy can do with a feature length film.