When you watch the trailer for Ink, you may get the impression that this is yet another “SyFy presents” low budget, low brow SF flick. This impression would be dead wrong. While Ink is low budget, it is nowhere near low brow. The psychological depth, the oneiric setting, and the contemplative structure of the narration ensures that SyFy channel would not touch it with a ten foot pole. It is way to smart for their current tasteless, nerd hating incarnation. The sad truth is that no one wanted to touch this movie to begin with. No big movie studio would pick it up. No TV channel wanted to have anything to do with it. No one seemed to be interested in making it.
Eventually it was financially backed by small independent movie studio called Double Edge Films (warning, shitty web design). The produced it, shown it on few film festivals and tried to directly sell to independent movie theaters in select cities while at the same time distributing it in DVD and BlueRay format it directly from their website. The sales were not going that well, until someone ripped it and an illegal copy hit the torrent circuits. According to Torrent Freak it was the fourth most downloaded movie of the week November of 2009, with over 400 thousand downloads.
The incredible popularity amongst pirates boosted the movies IMBD score bumping it from abysmal tail end to a whooping 16’th place on their movie meter. All this exposure caused massive spike in DVD and merchandise sales, and resulted with the studio striking a deal with Hulu where you can currently view it with brief commercial interruptions. Which proved once again, that piracy can be the best kind of marketing and exposure you can get.
As for the movie itself, it is actually very good. It is amazing what the cast and crew have accomplished given their tight budget. The special effects are low key but very well done. For example, I loved the incubi look which while incredibly minimalistic still ended up being undeniably creepy. The final fight sequence which takes place in a hospital and alternates between the real world and nightmarish dreamscape is especially powerful and well put together.
I really don’t want to talk much about the plot, because giving away any details sort of ruins the fun. Half the fun watching it, is trying to make sense of all the stuff that is happening. And have no fear, it does make sense. At the end, all the loose ends are tied up in a neat little bow and everything comes together just fine. Let me try to give you some idea what is it about though: a big, disfigured scary looking dude plucks a little girls soul right out of her body while he sleeps. He intends to sell it to the incubi – shadowy figures that appear at night and give people nightmares. A group of mysterious Storytellers (whose job is to do the opposite – bring people good dreams) take it upon themselves to track down the kidnapper who hides somewhere in the parallel dreamscape/limbo dimension before the girls body dies in the real world. But it is more than that. In between the choreographed fights, we have introspective story of a neglectful father whose successful career broke apart the family, an imaginative but internally consistent world of incubi/storytellers, a very interesting twist ending and incredible low key special effects and makeup work.
Granted, it is probably not the best movie you will see this year. But it is quite impressive considering it’s history and budget. And it is free to watch on Hulu so really there is no excuse for missing it.