Ink (2011)

Ink is absolutely, unequivocally superb and is guaranteed to immediately land on some people’s “favourite films of all time” list. Watch this film. I cannot recommend this enough…. unless you only like Michael Bay films… then you should probably avoid this or your head will explode.

The plot of Ink is incredibly difficult to describe without revealing literally everything about it, and worst of all, ruining the mesmerizing joy of discovering what the damn-hell is actually going on. So here is the plot, as spoiler-free as humanly possible: when we sleep, our dreams and nightmares are delivered to us by two sets of “people”. Good dreams are provided by kindly, normal-looking folk wanting to inject hope into our lives, whilst we are plunged into nightmares by some genuinely terrifying beings, intent on delivering desperation and forsaking our lives to torment and pain. Yet a third, unique force emerges in the night; a force called Ink. Ink is a rag-hooded humanoid with a scarred face and insanely large nose, and he does not want to give us anything at all… he wants to take. One dark evening he sneaks into the bedroom of young girl Emma and steals away her sleeping soul.

Now, I’ve already said too much, but the above description barely even touches the surface of this magnificent film. Once Emma’s soul has been stolen – leaving her stuck in a coma in our world and facing an eternal nightmare in dreamland – then the good dream folk mount a daring, complicated and entirely bonkers rescue attempt to save her…

There is SO much more to Ink that the embarrassingly emaciated plot I’ve ham-fistedly slapped out above, but whatever you get from it, my message is the same: buy it, own it, watch it and love it. It truly is worth every penny you could possibly lob at it.

Talking of pennies, Ink was made for an astoundingly tiny budget of $250,000 and has taken two years to cross the great pond and land on UK soil. This will shock anyone who sees it, as some of the scenes are phenomenally well crafted and it’s insane to think the Americans had been clutching tightly onto such a gem since 2009! Now it’s the United Kingdom’s turn to be amazed – seek it out!

Dreams are a realm film-makers love to play with, and no matter if it’s about child-raping serial killers (A Nightmare on Elm Street) or avaricious mind-tinkers (Inception) the audience is normally delivered an explanation early-on in order to make them feel comfortable in this new, confusing world. Ink, however, does not do this. At all.

Ink treats its audience with a huge amount of respect and an un-Hollywood like level of intelligence, allowing the story to evolve and develop without slovenly pandering to the expected norms of storytelling. Some will find this infuriating and patience-stretching, others will be so baffled by the first twenty minutes they will eject the disc, snap it into a thousand pieces and bury it under the full moon, whilst others – hopefully the majority – will be absolutely captivated from the first second onwards.

Jamin Winans’ direction is mesmerizing bizarre, filtering the different realities with a variety of fascinating hues and throwing in some seemingly effortless visual effects that stun and inspire. One fight scene in a bedroom early on will blow you away. In fact, Ink is filled with memorable moments throughout, which are both beautiful and absolutely terrifying.

There is a small irony in how Ink is all about dreams and nightmares and after watching it it’s almost guaranteed to give you nightmares. Ink himself is a disturbing creature, but it’s the nightmare people that truly terrify and they’re created brilliantly.

Acting wise the entire cast does superbly with some tough, bizarre and zany characters, making these unbelievable beings utterly believable. This has a lot to do with Winans’ direction and his assured script, but the actors truly compel. Christopher Soren Kelly is brilliant as the much-troubled John and Quinn Hunchar utterly adorable as Emma, delivering a performance most adults would be jealous of. The stand-out role, however, has to be that of Jeremy Make’s blind Jacob, who waltzes through the film with purpose and charm, lighting up the screen every second he appears. Everyone is excellent and they pull together to ensure the world of Ink is realistic and utterly believable.

Bad points? Does it sound like there are any? Well, Ink’s prosthetic nose is a bit pantomime, but that’s just me being pedantic. As I mentioned before, if you only watch films featuring Megan Fox leaning provocatively over motoring stuff or love unrecognizable metal things exploding in your face for two hours, then Ink may be a strugglesome watch. This is not about intelligence, but about style and the movie-goers experience, and Ink is very unique.

Unique is a word often misused to describe something that’s simply a bit different, but Ink encapsulates the true meaning of unique. No matter what the official marketing may splatter out to encourage you to watch this, Ink is not like any other film – it is not The Matrix, Pan’s Labyrinth, Dark City, Inception or Donnie Darko – it is Ink. Spell-binding, astounding, hypnotic, exciting, terrifying, uplifting and awe-inspiring, Ink is all these things and more. Watch it and be amazed.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★½

4 Comments on “Ink”

  1. Jess says:

    Ink truly blew my mind. It was beautiful and wonderful and really shouldn’t have worked but really did.

    I kind of saw the twist coming but I think it was very subtly done.

    The Succubus’ (I think that’s what they are called) are genuinely quite terrifying and brilliantly done.

    I could not find fault with this film at all.

  2. Greg says:

    I watched this film 4 days ago and had to force myself to get through the first 20 minutes. It was totally worth it, and I watched it again yesterday. It almost requires multiple viewings. This film is brilliant. period. My only complaint is the audio editing. Very hard to hear some of the dialog over the background sounds.

  3. Phil Taberner says:

    Mr Scullion, consider me forever in your debt.

    I bought this film after reading your (spot-on, I must say) review and have only just got around to watching it. And boy do I regret not watching it sooner. It was truly a joy to watch from start to finish; you have my eternal gratitude for introducing this film into my life.

    Admittedly I was expecting something a little scarier, but that is no fault of your own. What struck me throughout the entire movie is how much of a modern-day fairytale it seemed. Without meaning to pigeon-hole it, it struck me has having a very Grimm-ian vibe. I’d imagine it’s what the Brothers Grimm would have written had they just watched Inception. Wondrous characters, the whole gamut of emotions, beautiful colours and cinematography…and I’m in very imminent danger of turning this comment into a fully-fledged review, so I’ll stop whilst I still can.

    Superb. Utterly superb.

  4. Pat says:

    Spot on review. I think mine, in 4 words, would have to be: Beautiful, creepy, engaging, moving.

    Still can’t quite believe they made this on that budget. Goes to show what raw imagination and skill can provide*.

    (* And also just how powerful affordable imaging software has clearly become. But that’s a whole other ramble).

    Awesome stuff.

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