Mladen and Del review ‘Ink’

Image courtesy of Double Edge Films.

“Ink.” Starring Christopher Soren Kelly, Quinn Hunchar, Jessica Duffy, Jennifer Batter, and others. Directed by Jamin Winans. 107 minutes. Not rated. Amazon Prime

Mladen’s take

My boss recommended that I watch “Infinity Chamber.” I did and liked the film enough to see what other movies starred Christopher Soren Kelly, the computer hacker and insurrectionist in “Infinity Chamber.” The film “Ink” popped up. It was accompanied by an interesting summary, so I watched it. I did not regret my decision and Del better not either.

He and I take turns choosing which movies to review. While Del often picks losers, I seldom do. “Ink” is no exception to my sterling track record, but Del may disagree, albeit ineffectively.

“Ink” is a parable about right and wrong. The film tackles the notion of ambition and the way it can not only destroy those who are stepped on, but those who do the stepping. Trump should watch the movie. “Ink” explains in a Brothers Grimm sort of way why he’s so fucked now that he’s no longer occupying the White House. U.S. senators Tumbleweed Cruz, Rabid Rand, Lilting Lindsey, Himmler Hawley, and Murine McConnell, to name a few, would also benefit from watching the movie. In the end, “Ink” shows the way to redemption, which those boys will need badly before it comes time for them to meet their Maker.

Kelly plays two characters in “Ink,” terrible husband John, who’s even worse as a father, and Ink, a junior partner to the Grim Reaper. Toss in the supernatural kidnapping of John’s daughter Emma, portrayed very nicely by then-young Quinn Hunchar, by Ink; a group of fairy-like do-gooders trying to rescue Emma from Ink; and some very interesting others who side either with goodness or badness as this other earthly story unfolds, and you have a movie that reaches A-.

I was charmed by the film’s low-budget special effects, though using electrical tape to make X’s across the life rhythm keeper’s eyes annoyed me. It’s the life rhythm keeper, however, who is central to one of the film’s neatest pieces. He initiates an event that causes a chain reaction of incidents that result in John helping his daughter recover from her Ink-induced exposure to the dastardlier aspect of Dreamworld, the cabal of Incubi. The way the Incubi are depicted, by the way, is cool and psychedelic. It reminded me of the scenes in “Brazil” where the servants of the totalitarian state use information processing equipment fitted with magnifying glasses to read material used to destroy lives. Or were magnifying screens part of the setting of the movie version of “1984”?

It took me a moment to adapt to the way “Ink” works. But, I’m not particularly bright and Del less so. It may be easier for you to orient yourself. Be patient for the first, oh, 15 minutes of the film. By then you should be fully immersed in the realm the movie creates. Keep in mind that this movie must have had a small budget. It relies on drab urban landscapes, inner-city plots, and industrial workspaces to convey its fantastical world. I can’t recall the soundtrack, which is OK.

“Ink” is Aesop-like storytelling that serves as its own unadorned tool for teaching us all a lesson.

Del’s take

Oh yes, Mladen’s taste in movies is impeccable. He recommended “Bone Tomahawk” and I’m still in therapy. But with “Ink” he proved the old adage that if you give a monkey a typewriter, one day it’ll type Shakespeare. “Ink” is one of his rare winning suggestions.

I too was charmed by the movie, which is, as Mladen accidentally stumbled upon, a modern parable. And I agree that you need to give the movie a chance. Stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with explanations about Storytellers, Incubi and Pathfinders, all denizens of an alternate reality that rule supreme over your dreams.

“Ink” is one of those movies that requires attention, and yes, it operates on many different levels. But unlike “Tenet” it is not indecipherable. The keen eye will discern a very neat synchronicity bound in metaphors for good, evil, and more importantly, the loyalty and dedication borne of love.

The pacing is brisk but populated with moments of quiet introspection. But what impressed me most was the look of the film – gritty black and white and some very cool retro tech that reminded me of the John Wick films and Ridley Scott’s “Bladerunner.”

Hunchar is brilliant as Emma, the little girl whose soul is plucked from her body by the titular character Ink as he seeks entré to the world of the Incubi. Also brilliant is Jeremy Make as the blind Pathfinder Jacob (after falling – “Hello dirt. How are we today?”). Kelly is effective as the high-strung, hard-charging John / Ink, who spends the movie rediscovering his humanity.

Less impressive were the Storytellers, who seemed cut from the cloth of the ninja/warrior/apprentice template. They were there and they were honorable, and that was about it. Except Jessica Duffy as Liev, who sacrifices everything to save young Emma. Her character stepped out of the stereotype to make an impression.

“Ink” creates its own lexicon of morality and honor, and articulates those values in ways you likely have never seen. For an indie film it casts a long shadow, and I expect it will someday join the ranks of those quiet cult films beloved by fans of science fiction, horror and fantasy. You know the ones I’m talking about – “THX 1138,” “Code 46,” “Pumpkinhead” and “City of Ember,” all terrific little films nobody knows about but nonetheless advanced their genres.

I think “Ink” falls into the A- category. I don’t think it’s everyone’s cup of tea, but for those willing to do the work it’s a happy anecdote that will make that bottle of melatonin worth its weight in gold.

Mladen Rudman is a former journalist and technical writer. Del Stone Jr. is a former journalist and author.