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.
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
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.
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.
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