Science fiction and fantasy                                            


by Jamin Winans

Imagine a world where good and wicked spirits live amongst us, whispering things in our ears and giving us good or bad dreams. This is exactly the kind of thing John (Christopher Kelly) is too busy to contemplate. He's a cut-throat businessman who spends his days doing high-pressure deals and intimidating his rivals, and his nights drinking too much. He's proud, arrogant and ruthless, and he doesn't have time for his family. His wife is dead, and his neglected daughter lives with her grandparents who are estranged from John.

One night these spirits pop up on a suburban street and do their thing, climbing into people's rooms and touching their foreheads. The nightmare spirits are known as incubi, and they're easy to distinguish because they wear creepy screens in front of their faces. Eight year-old Emma (Quinn Hunchar) is getting ready for bed when she gets dragged away by Ink, a spirit in ragged clothes and a big hood. He fights with Emma's guardian Allel (Jennifer Batter), but Ink prevails and drags her into a place with strange doors between this world and other strange places.

Ink hardly says a word until he encounters Liev (Jessica Duffy), a storyteller. Then we discover that he wants to become an incubus. He aims to be one of those evil creatures, in exchange for numbness. He thinks Emma is his ticket to that prize.

So a group of storytellers set out to retrieve the child. But their struggle turns out to be more than a simple rescue, because it's a fight for souls. In their world they have to contend with Ink's kidnap of Emma and his race to gather the pieces he needs for his transformation. But in the real world John is turning into a first class git, whilst his daughter has slipped into a coma for no known reason. John doesn't even have the decency to put aside his differences with her grandparents and go and see her in hospital.

I liked the character of the blind pathfinder Jacob (Jeremy Make), a quirky good guy who wears tape over his eyes. I would have liked to know more about him. However the story is a little overpopulated with characters come in, have a tiny role, and then don't get seen again. In many ways it's rough around the edges. The effects look cheap, with plenty of green-tinged flashbacks and washed-out otherworldly scenes. The first half suffers from a lack of dialogue and music, and coupled with the basic effects this makes the film seem flat. Luckily that's not true all the way through, particularly at the end when the rhythm-conscious Jacob seems to be conducting the street scene like an orchestra.

Ink could do with better script editing, and a few more jokes wouldn't have hurt. It's a reasonably interesting story if you take it as a metaphor and disregard some of the huge plot holes. Basically the ending doesn't quite make sense because time is all over the place, and it's not clear when Ink became the creature he is. Okay, Liev explains at one point that time flows differently in their world, but that's no excuse for having events that take place before they happened. However the main actors are solid and believable, and I loved the contrast between the spirit world where everyone is fighting an epic battle, and the real world with its calm surface.

To an extent this movie misses its audience, because it starts off with a lot of swearing and then goes on to include references to drug taking and suicide. But the feel of it is very soppy and heartwarming, with its strong theme of family love and a very young heroine in Emma. So it could almost have been a good family film, but it really isn't family friendly. Yet an adult audience might find it too sweet.

4th December 2012

Film Details

Year: 2009

Categories: Films


Classification: 15

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Mirrormask by Dave McKean
Weirdness abounds in this story of a girl, her mother, and a very peculiar dream.

3 star rating

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