Gort vs nasal prosthetics: We review indie fantasy, Ink

Stardate 10082012.2:

Having been stranded in the body of a frog and banished into space by my once-faithful sidekick, Gort, I found myself rescued by Tommy Wiseau, a candidate for the worst film maker in human history. Wiseau had once been a Galactic Alliance Commander, but had gone renegade in order to study the human species by infiltrating the US independent film scene. It turned out that he had arranged for every DVD of his film, The Room to be fitted with a tracking device to inform him whenever anyone watched. This had allowed him to find my escape pod.

It turned out that former-Commander Wiseau had been very helpful. Believing I was a fan, he gave me a ship and set me on course back to Earth to recapture the Mothership from the dastardly Commander Walter. None of this made it worth spending several hours in his company, but once that ordeal was behind me, I had set course for Earth and entered hyperspace.

Almost immediately, my ship's proximity alarm began blaring. Wondering what obstruction could panic the computer so, I activated the emergency brake and juddered to a halt right in the middle of an armada of enemy vessels. Unable to escape, I was rapidly captured and dragged aboard their Mothership. Carried into the throne room I found myself confronted with the dreaded Dark Lord Medcalf. Having attempted to explain why I was in the body of a frog, the Dark Lord dismissed my rhetoric with a shrug and began to pass judgement.

"Renounce your vile B-movie-watching ways and you may have a place among the Blackdog Armada," he bellowed.

"Never! Not while there are such wonderful, low-budget movies as independent fantasy film Ink out there," I responded.

The Dark Lord raised his pointing finger and declared: "To the Bunker of Shun with him!"

To be continued...

Ink is a simply beautiful movie. It's the kind of film that defines what this blog is about. Trawling through low-budget B-movies can leave you cynical and thinking there is no joy to be had from films other than an ironic sense of so-bad-it's-hilarious. Ink proves that there is more to be found in non-Hollywood movies and makes all those 'Megawombat vs Giant Tortoise' flicks worthwhile. It is a shame that few people will ever see it as it is so obscure.

Many other champions of this film, such as our very own Admiral Moon, have chosen to review the movie without giving any details of the plot, so as not to spoil the way it slowly unfolds without giving anything away. We debated this ourselves, but chose to fill you in, if only to encourage you to watch this movie as soon as you can and not leave it in the see-if-you-get-chance pile as we had for so long. Of course, we will avoid spoilers.

Ink posits that there are two tribes of invisible beings roaming the world at night. One, the Incubi, is a group of horrific monsters who seek to corrupt and destroy mankind by invading our minds while we sleep and playing on our insecurities, something we call nightmares. The other, the Storytellers, is a benevolent group of warriors who do their best to guard our sleeping bodies and create calming hallucinations to soothe us, what we call dreams. Between these two are a cast of strange creatures and freaks with no affiliation known as Drifters. One such individual is the epically-snozzed Ink, an amoral creature who hopes to join the ranks of the Incubi by kidnapping a young mortal girl and bringing her to them as a sacrifice.

This synopsis doesn't even begin to delve into the depths of Ink's intricate story. The narrative runs through fairytale logic, but with far too dark an edge to make this a kids' film. The Incubi cover their faces with glass plates, through which they appear twisted and colourless, though constantly smiling, a symbol of their emotional numbness. The quality of this effect and much of the film's other imagery defies the expectations of the meagre budget. The same can be said of the cast, who do much to defend the reputation of amateur actors.

Overall, however, it's the power of the ideas on display in Ink that wins you over. The dream creatures tap out codes on tiny drums as keys to open portals to other realms. A fight between Ink and a Storyteller in a suburban home sees smashed furniture immediately repair itself to leave no trace of the battle. An enigmatic character tapes his eyelids shut in order to better hear the "beat" of the world, which allows him to manipulate events.

All of this builds to a genuinely thrilling conclusion through a combination of characters you've grown to care about and a twist that, while we saw coming, is still clever. Despite being novel, the climax still makes perfect sense and brings the story together, clarifying what's happened up to that point.

Until the end, however, the film keeps its cards close to its chest. It takes the Star Wars route and leaves out all the exposition, letting you work out what's going on by yourself. This makes Ink a film that you need to pay attention to and it's not an easy watch, but the reward for persevering is enough to renew your faith in movies.

It's not often that you see a film with big ideas, massive amounts of heart, great effects and kickass, martial arts fight scenes. The fact that Ink does all of this on a tiny budget raised by the film makers themselves only serves to make the movie more impressive.

Ink's makers encourage piracy of the film and it is available for free download through many services online.