Director – Andy Stewart
Starring Sam Hayman, Austin Hayden, Gordon Holliday, Billy Hay.
Before reading the review please read this short statement from the author. As some people may know I have been friends with Andy for a while. After Spilt he set up a crowdfunding page for INK where I donated. Part of the perk for donating was being listed as an Associate Producer, I also got a cool signed poster. Anyway I wanted to let everyone know this just so there wouldn’t be a conceived conflict of interests. I review INK purely on it’s own merits and without bias, anyone who thinks otherwise is questioning my integrity as a writer AND as a person. I could have easily given the INK review to another writer , but as I had reviewed his previous work I wanted to complete this too, not as a favour to Andy . I hope this clears any points up . Thanks Andy Deen !! Now read on and enjoy the review .
Anyone who has met me in the last 18 months will probably heard me mention Andy Stewart. Andy has previously directed two short films Dysmorphia & Split which both left me unsettled, upset and emotional. Now people who know me will testify I am not an emotional chap, but Andy’s style of direction and the manner in which he sets a scene of often such intense physical and mental horror is something of beauty. I remember reading a quote from City of Bones author Cassandra Clare who said “It’s your gift, to see the beauty and the horror in ordinary things” , and I think that sums Andy up perfectly .
So onto INK. We start with an unnamed man (Sam Hayman) who is obsessed with tattoos, his flat is covered with pictures of tattoos and artwork but he can’t afford to get them done. So instead he decides the best course of action is to physically remove the tattoos from other people and then remove his own skin and replace it with the newly skinned tattoo and stitch it on. We don’t see any of the violence against other people but we do see in great detail the steps Hayman goes to on his own body for his dream.
INK is a step away from Stewart’s previous work Dysmorphia and Split , which both dealt with the main character suffering from loss, this time we have a character who is envious and wants what he can’t have. And also the first time that a central character has turned violent towards anyone other than themselves.
Sam Hayman is wonderful in the lead, you feel every moment with him. His facial expressions during scenes of intense pain are so realistic and whilst I never felt any warmth to his character I did feel a level of compassion and sympathy towards his situation. Sammy never utters a word throughout INK (something I only realised on a second viewing), and this goes to show what an amazing performance he gives.
The cinematography from Alan McLaughlin is superb. The majority of the film is set inside a dark flat with a little light from a dimly lit lamp and a few holes in old rotten curtains across a window which let shards of light beam in, yet McLaughlin uses this to his advantage. INK is made for the big screen , and having seen both Dysmorphia and Split on a big screen I can’t wait to see INK in all it’s glory.
Also a huge shout to the make-up artists and FX crew firstly Grant Mason who designed everything and Deirdre Flanigan both of whom worked on Split and also newcomer Lizz Wayt. There are times in INK when (being the body horror wimp I am) , I had to look away.
INK is paced superbly, it moves gently from scene to scene , never rushed and you are never sure what is coming next. Andy Stewart is a huge talent and with INK being the final piece in his body horror trilogy then I can’t wait to see what he has planned next. Will there be a feature? I personally hope so but if Andy sticks to shorts then we are in for more treats.
INK is graphic body horror with a heart, a unique short film that just adds to Andy Stewart’s standing as one of THE leading lights in the independent British horror scene. I am sure INK will be on the festival circuit later in the year , so make sure to check it out.