by Jamin Winans

Something that happens rarely is that I see a film knowing nothing aside from what its title is and what its poster looks like, and that the film turns out to be a tremendously unique one, as is the case with Jamin WinansInk; a 2009 spectacle that proves just how far you can go as a filmmaker if, even though the budget is low, you are smart enough to use it just right. It is a capturing and beautiful saga that quite literally explores the kind of world dreams are made of.

When day turns to night and the entire world falls into slumber, that is when they come out. After the sun sets and the lights go out, and most people have gone to their beds, two supernatural forces, invisible to mortals, emerge: The Storytellers, who exist to make you dream the most wonderful of dreams, and The Incubi, who exist only to make you dream horrible nightmares. This is how the world has always functioned, but then one night, things become unusual. A new being, unknown to The Storytellers, has appeared in their plane of reality and for some reason steals the soul of a sleeping little girl named Emma (played by the amazingly talented Quinn Hunchar), which he seemingly intends to deliver to The Incubi, once he acquires the code needed to enter their realm.

Before he finds this code and fulfils his mysterious mission, three Storytellers, Allel (Jennifer Batter), Gabe (Eme Ikwuakor) and Sarah (Shelby Malone) team up with a blind, wise-cracking “Pathfinder” named Jacob (Jeremy Make), who, through his ability to predict chain reactions by listening to what he calles “the beat of the world”, will help them get a hold of the little girl’s father, a business man named John (Chris Kelly); severely depressed after the loss of his wife.

ink-gollumThe film cuts consistently in-between these different subplots, alternately focusing on the psychological downfall of John, the mission of the three Storytellers plus Jacob, and Ink’s quest to return to the Incubi with his prisoner Emma. On their way, the two of them encounter several other fascinating beings, including yet another Storyteller named Liev (Jessica Duffy), who seems to know what sort of tragic creature Ink actaully is, and was. She also befriends Emma and helps her maintain her admirable bravery throughout the adventure, making for one of the many compelling relationships in the movie. Another favorite is the somewhat steamy one in-between the snarky and serious Allel and the much-less serious Jacob.

The movie is just absolutely gorgeous. Keeping in mind that this is a so-called “backyard movie” with a minimal budget, similar to the Star Wars fan films my father used to make me and my brothers take part in when we were kids, the outcome of Winans’ work becomes all the more impressive. He did, after all, not only direct Ink, but he was also the producer, the writer and even the man who composed the astonishingly good music. Also genuinely impressive is the fight choreography, as well as the cinematography, performances (especially from the young girl who plays Emma) and special effects work. True, most of the shots have some sort of color filter over them that might irritate some viewers, but I only found that it helped create the sometimes magical and sometimes terrifying world of Ink.

Even though I normally appreciate the smaller movies that get less attention from the mainstream – mostly since “appealing to the mainstream” and “thinking outside the box” are traits that extraordinarily rarely coincide – Ink is a film that cries out for greater recognition and a larger amount of respect and admiration. More people need, as well as deserve to see a film that’s this smart, touching, original and impressively made. The company that made it call themselves Double Edge Films and I’m looking forward tremendously to their upcoming project, even though I can’t remember what it’s called. EDIT: The Frame.

Ink is lovely film that’s wonderful to look at, incredible to listen to and fascinating to follow from beginning to end. That, and it’s the only movie I can think of that has ever made my dad tear up during a movie. Any film that’s capable of that must be the work of a genius.