Sunday, February 16, 2014


Around three years ago at work I grabbed a random section of our local newspaper, The Grand Forks Herald, to kill off the last minutes of break. In the arts and entertainment section, a local writer had a column on his top ten indie movies of the year. I think I never heard of a single one off his list, and threw nearly all of them in my Netflix Que. The only one of those films that I really enjoyed enough to track down and buy was the fantasy thriller Ink (Trailer).

It proved to be quite a task to track down actually, it had a small home video run, and every several months that I checked various online marketplaces, the only copies that were for sale were ridiculously marked up. About a month back I finally found a copy at a reasonable price, and popped it in right away once it arrived in the mail. As much as I hate to admit it, I am awful when it comes to mystery movies, or films that have a big twist coming as they usually catch me off guard in some way or another, and it can be a little difficult for me to pick up on those little hints the filmmakers leave for me. As if you could not tell by now, Ink is one of those types of movies.

When I first watched Ink I had no idea what was going on for the first half hour. In this bizarre first half hour, we are introduced to John (Chris Kelly) and his daughter Emma (Quinn Hunchar). The film jumps around at different points in their lives in the real world, and in a fantasy dream world which is mostly dominated by two types of people: Storytellers who pass on good dreams to empower individuals with hope while they rest, and their rival the Incubus, who you guessed it, are the polar opposite and pass on nightmares. Both John and Emma suffer awful accidents in the real world, and their dream world sub consciences are now in a state of purgatory to see if storytellers and incubus can fight to get them back in the real world or succumb to darkness.

I know, I know, that is quite a bit to take in, and I do not blame you if you are already shaking your head and are about to X out the Internet window. I think about 10 minutes on my initial viewing I started checking Twitter while only paying half attention to the film. Then around the half hour mark, there is a breakthrough sequence featuring several storytellers, who do not essentially spell it out for us how the real world and dream world coexist, but instead set off a very well produced chain of events that links together and makes sense of the extraordinary first act of the film, and by the end of the chain link sequence, I "got" how this world operated. It is my favorite scene of the movie, and watching it again on second viewing made a big impact on me; and now I cannot help but go about most things in my daily routine to a four note beat.

It is from there I was rooting for John and Emma to overcome the darkness of the dream world with the assistance of storytellers doing all kinds of Matrix-esque moves to vanquish all the incubus in their way. The final act is very powerful, in a good way that I wish I see more films strive for. There is a lot of dark imagery, and clever use of lighting and common objects to mask the limited budget of the indie film while still managing to make their unique dream world really pop out at you.

I watched a couple of the key scenes of the film with the director's commentary, where I learned some interesting tidbits like how the filmmakers went out on a limb funding this movie on their own after failing to find any studio investors. Ink never got a proper theatrical release, and only had a brief run in the film festival circuit before getting a small home video run. Other than the commentary, there are two short extra features, one is a several minute long montage of behind the scenes production shots throughout the two to three years of shooting the movie, and the other is a nearly identical length feature where the two main actors, Chris and Emma interview each other on what it was like to be a part of the film. Ink is a unique concoction of a movie, it is part thriller, part fantasy, part mystery, but they manage to make it all gel together quite well. If you are into any of those three genres, then I think Ink will be right up your block....just give it a half hour.

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