INK is a glaringly original, "Fake it â€˜till you make it" shoestring budgeted indie that audaciously envisions itself as a grand scale, epic fantasy. If you take a leap of faith and hold tight to its coat tails, it will show you a fascinating parallel universe the likes of which you've never seen; if you are rigidly resistant to its unapologetic non Hollywood esthetic and sometimes woeful dependence on community theater acting skills, you're likely to be kicked to the curb and left empty handed. This is a movie that fittingly feels built to detect and separate the stubbornly cynical naysayers from the hopeful dreamers in its audience.
When I was just a wee sprout, my Granny felt the need to inform me that when I was having a good dream an angel was sitting on my bed and telling me a story (so far so good) but when I was having a bad dream, a demon was doing the honors. Turns out it's not a very soothing idea to wake up from a bad dream as a child believing that a demon was just in your room, but INK reveals that it does make for a compelling starting point of a movie. Little Emma (QUINN HUNCHAR) not only wakes to find such a demon still lurking, but is also kidnapped by him and drug into a creepily beautiful netherworld.
Emma has been stolen by "Ink," a troll like creature stuck in a spiritual limbo who plans to use her as a bargaining chip to join the ranks of the dark side. Not so into his plan is Liev (JESSICA DUFFY) a good guy, guardian angel type who vows to save her. That's my simplified take anyway; the movie itself offers an impressively dense mythology involving Incubi, storytellers, pathfinders and other dream world denizens that I can't get into here because it's borderline TOLKIEN. Really, INK feels like an adaptation of a decades long comic book that you never heard of. Those susceptible to fetishizing sci-fi/fantasy minutia get your pens out and plan multiple viewings.
Although INK's whole backyard stage production of LABYRINTH vibe would be enough to recruit me as a fan, the fact is (and I have to tread softly here as to not ruin anything) it's ultimately damn profound. Unlike the many cult films it's bound to be compared to, what's at stake in this universe is nothing less momentous than the human soul. Don't be surprised if you are left contemplating just how far life's indignities have veered you off course from who you once were.
Writer, director and composer JAMIN WINANS is apparently fearless. If there are any limitations to low budget filmmaking he either didn't get the memo or refuses to acknowledge it. If he was ever an underage drinker, I'm sure he was never carded, so convincing is he that he deserves to walk among the big kids. I don't have any money, but if I did I'd be investing it all in his next film. It's not every day you witness straw spun into gold.
Like all great things INK is too unusual to be loved unanimously, but something tells me that the depth of the passion it's sure to inspire in some is all the acceptance it needs.
Note: Special thanks to reader Chris for telling me about INK!