Movie Review: Ink

“They’re all reactions! One thing begets the next. A man has a weakness, he’s flawed. That flaw leads him to guilt. The guilt leads him to shame. The shame he compensates with pride and vanity. And when pride fails, despair takes over and they all lead to his destruction. It will become his fate… Something’s gotta stop the flow.”

Mindfuck. That is what you’ll get when you take this offbeat trek into the world of independent film.

Directed and written by Jamin Winans, this piece of sci-fi fantasy takes a look into the human mind, through the worlds of your dreams.  It follows the growing battle between the two sides of the dreamscape: Incubi and Storytellers, notably through their interest in a little girl named Emma. Emma is kidnapped by a drifting spirit named Ink, an extremely ugly, ass-kicking creature, who is trying to become an Incubi by sacrificing Emma to them. The story also leaks into the real world by following her father, his turmoil, and his increasing madness brought on by his daughter’s apparent coma.

This movie is bizarre. It is also more than I expected it to be. Despite relatively low production values, this movie still manages to capture a certain ethereal ambiance. It’s quite an artsy piece. Outdoors, they tend to have a problem with the camera getting washed-out whited-out, but after awhile, you tend to cease noticing. There is just so much going on, it gets swept under the rug. Even so, my one big grudge lies with the camera man. Sometimes, he does alright, but at others he goes through such a rapid shot-angle change you think you might get seizures. I understand wanting to give us a full picture, but CALM DOWN! You can let us stick to a POV for more than a second at a time.

Where this movie shines is in the story, though. Despite a bit of a slow start, what you get is a surreal, cerebral look into the mind. Reality and spirituality blur, and the lines between them become indistinct. Family is all-important, but the major themes are pain, loss, forgiveness, and redemption. It shows the horrors that can destroy a man and the struggles that can lead to his salvation. The classic good vs. evil shadows every aspect of the film, but what it is really about is the emotion.

There is a twist to the father-daughter relationship here that will leave you breathless. Relationships are key, and they are intricate, beautiful, and deep. At times they may hurt—but such is reality.

The combat, when it arises, seems a little out of place, but it is entertaining. It also seems to utilize the Law of Inverse Ninja in its style of action—50 good guys can’t take out one bad guy, but likewise, 3 of those same good guys absolutely decimate dozens of baddies. Also: the character known as a Pathfinder is cool. The world of Ink uses the concept that there is a beat to the world, and the Pathfinder cannot merely hear and understand that beat, but also manipulate it. Drums also tear open the portals to new destinations. It puts this inherent underlying musical nature to the universe, and I like it.

You wouldn’t have seen this one in theaters, nor will you, but while it doesn’t have all the shine of its Hollywood cousins, Ink is a thing to behold.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

~ by Chris G. on March 27, 2010.

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