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Viewing this film in the company of a paying audience was like being transported back in time to a decade ago, when sci fi-tinged freak-outs like DARK CITY, PI, DONNIE DARKO and THE MATRIX were far more prevalent. The strange and provocative INK fits squarely in that tradition, and deserves our support--even if, in my view, it isn’t all it could be.

The Package
     INK was a three year no-budget labor of love from writer/director Jamin Winans and producer/art director (and Jiman’s better half) Kiowa K. Winans. It was lensed in various locations around Denver, Colorado with a no-name cast, and distributed theatrically and on DVD in 2009 by the Winans’ own Double Edge Films. INK has already garnered a deserved cult following, and I say it deserves a greater exposure.

The Story
     One night young Emma is visited by several Storytellers, i.e. sword-wielding individuals residing in the world of the subconscious whose primary purpose is to bring hopeful dreams. Following them are the black leather clad Incubi, who have leering monitor faces and instill nightmares. Also present is Ink, a beak-nosed hunchback who snatches Emma’s soul away before the Storytellers can get to her.
     This sends Emma into a coma. The Storytellers conclude that the only way they’ll be able to save her is through the intervention of a blind Storyteller (we know he’s blind because he has taped X’s over his eyes), who unlike his companions is capable of influencing reality outside the dream realm. He uses his talents to precipitate a car accident that lands Emma’s neglectful father in the same hospital as she. The hope is that he’ll make his way to Emma’s room and help her awaken.
     In the meantime Ink leads Emma’s soul, along with a woman Storyteller, through a subconscious landscape. Ink is looking to join the ranks of the Incubi, and hopes to do so by delivering Emma’s soul into their clutches. It’s up to the Storytellers to stop them, but there’s a twist set to turn everything on its ear.

The Direction
     I’ll get the negatives out of the way first. The bleached-out look is tacky, closer to an MTV promo than a proper movie. Conceptually there are also some irritations, notably the way the narrative pivots on the cliché of a workaholic father learning to pay more attention to his family, and writer-director Jamin Winans goes overboard with elegiac sentimentality, particularly toward the end. The acting by and large is no great shakes, either.
     The film’s vision, however, is arrestingly strange, with many impossible-to-forget images (notably the sight of those monitor faced Incubi), and its incorporation of hallucinatory fantasy into an otherwise realistic milieu quite audacious. INK may be a no-budget affair, but (the crummy look aside) feels far more expensive than it is; Winans has a talent shared by many indie film auteurs, namely the ability to stretch his limited resources to their absolute maximum. He also composed the engagingly low key score, which compliments the visuals perfectly, and overall must be counted as one of INK’s key assets.

Vital Statistics

Double Edge Films

Director/Producer/Editor: Jamin Winans
Producer: Kiowa K. Winans
Cinematography: Jeff Pointer
Cast: Chris Kelly, Quinn Hunchar, Jessica Duffy, Jeremy Make, Jennifer Batter, Eme Ikwuakor, Shelby Malone