While we sleep, another world holds sway over us. That world is populated by forces of good and forces of evil, that battle constantly for our souls. This, apparently, is what makes Ink a ‘high-concept visual thriller’, a description which handily ignores the many other films made in which characters do battle in dreams and dream-worlds, or indeed Hollywood’s oft-professed description as a ‘seller of dreams’.
John (Christopher Soren Kelly) runs a successful company. Although we witness him in several meetings, the business-speak used is so generic, it is impossible to tell exactly what business he is in. He has a young daughter, Emma (Quinn Hunchar). One night, while asleep, she is kidnapped by Ink, a dream-world resident who wears voluminous rags and has an absolutely enormous nose. Ink wants Emma as so he can offer her as a sacrifice to the bad guys, the Incubi, and so join them. Trying to prevent this, are a group from the forces of good – the Storytellers – led by a blind Pathfinder (Jeremy Make), and Allel (Jennifer Batter). Ink manages to capture one of the Storytellers, Liev (Jessica Duffy). As Ink travels through the dream-world – which, incidentally, maps almost exactly onto the real world – the Storyteller bolsters Emma’s confidence and tries to gain Ink’s trust.
While she is in the dream-world, Emma is in a coma in hospital. After pulling off a vital business deal, John leaves his office but is involved in a traffic accident – caused by an Incubus. This puts him in hospital – but fortunately, he is only concussed – and near his daughter, which is where the final showdown between the Storytellers and the Incubi takes place. Meanwhile, Ink has given Emma to the Incubus Key Master (Marty Lindsey), who then stabs Liev… Which prompts her to tell Ink what he should already know: who he is and what he needs to do, and so the two plots come together to resolve the story.
The real world and the dream-world are differentiated throughout the film using different filters. There are also a number of flashback sequences, which are also indicated by the use of colour filters. Unfortunately, this ever-changing palette means Ink resembles nothing so much as a compilation of promo videos, strung together to make some sort of narrative. Further complicating matters is the fractured chronology which affects the dream-world.
There is some nice production design – the Incubi, who wear glass-plates with projected faces on the front of their heads, are especially effective. The fight-scenes are well-choreographed, particularly the final battle in the dream-world hospital. But, the flashbacks add nothing to the story, and serve only to confuse. The film’s ending makes sense of the plot but also generates unanswerable questions. The acting throughout is variable, and occasionally quite bad. Happily, the cinematography is generally good and, well, to be honest, the film does look quite impressive, especially given its low budget. However, while there’s an interesting imagination at work in Ink, the movie never quite gels.
The makers of Ink claim it has become a ‘cult’ favourite. I doubt this. None of the characters are charismatic enough to engage the viewer’s sympathies, and the plot is overly complicated and confusing. It’s over-rated.