In the world of Ink, whenever we go to sleep two forces wrestle for domination over our souls. Firstly there are the Storytellers; benevolent creatures who give us our best dreams, and who nudge us subconsciously towards positive decisions in life. Then there are the Incubi, who cause our nightmares; forcing us to relive and rediscover our most terrible fears and memories. These two are invisible to the puny mortal eye, but a cracking opening battle sequence assures us that every night these two armies fight it out for victory over our minds. Expertly guiding us through a tense, original and visually impressive fight sequence, director Jamin Winans shows from the very beginning that he is no amateur. In terms of openings Ink kicks off brilliantly; establishing its world confidently and without the need for excessive exposition – so far, so excellent. But then the plot really kicks in. And things get a bit shaky.

Trapped between the two worlds of Incubi and Storytellers, a drifter called Ink wanders the dreamy world desperate to escape the painful limbo he’s in; racked by a guilt he can’t quite remember. Willing even to become an terrifying Incubus, he needs to sacrifice the soul of a young girl, Emma, in order to gain access to their poisonous realm. However, having taken the young girl in question – and leaving the young lass in a comatose state back in the “real” world – he finds he needs to get access to some “codes” in order to get to the Incubi themselves. When this cues lots of wandering towards other drifters who have access to these codes for some reason, we can’t help but suspect we’re filling time as other action goes on elsewhere…

Meanwhile (aha!), back in the real world, it seems young Emma’s dad isn’t coping too well with the news that his daughter is in a coma. A typically overworked businessman, we learn that he has become less and less connected to Emma ever since her mother died and her grandparents took over parental duties. Refusing to go and see her at the hospital, he throws himself further and further into his work, unknowingly leaving his daughter in the hands of Ink. With time ticking, the Storytellers are sure that somehow, it’s up to him to save his daughter. But how? And can they, such ephemeral spirits, change his actions and along with them the course of the future?

It’s a complex story, made more confusing by constant, rather unnecessary time jumps and repetitions, as well as dialogue that has a tendency to lapse into cliche rather than stay tight and informative. The characters suffer as a result – we never really feel like we get to the heart of anyone bar Emma and Dad, which is a real shame because in theory the Incubi and the Storytellers are utterly fascinating creatures, fleshed out wonderfully by innovative visuals and good casting. But their script lets them down, and so sadly all too often the originality of the concepts presented are masked by a reliance on cinematic archetype (smart talking wise guy, frustrated but feisty women, wise and serene moral leader…)

As the plot begins to spiral a little out of control director Jamin wisely decides to wrap it all up fairly swiftly, and thankfully the final few twists are enough to keep you on-side. All in all, it’s an impressive debut from writer/director that simply needs a kick-ass script editor. Fine work all, what else ya got?

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