Sunday, 17 August 2014

Short Film Revew: INK (2014) Directed by Andy Stewart

A few months back, I reviewed Split - a short film by Andy Stewart, and was incredibly impressed. Now, he has completed his planned trilogy of body-horror, The Reflections Trilogy, with Ink
In Ink, we meet The Man (Sam Hayman), an oddball loner with a tattoo obsession. There's nothing particularly strange about that in this day and age. However, he is also clearly disturbed. He satisfies his compulsion by removing body art from other people's bodies; crudely stitching the pieces into his own derma. Naturally, like any addiction, it's hard to stop...
Like Stewart's earlier shorts, Dysmorphia (2012) and Split (2014), Ink deals with an individual suffering from an extreme form of mental illness. The characters are not monsters; but they do monstrous things. Ink is the first in which this manifests in harming others, however. Nevertheless, like those earlier films, the feelings, emotions, and struggles are all very relatable. Naturally, not to the extremes of the characters in the films, but there's certainly an element of coveting that may be familiar to some. 
Hayman is simply stunning as 'The Man'; creepy, disturbed looking (think Jame Gumb crossed with Jason Mewes), and particularly when in physical pain, very believable. There's very little dialogue, but you are drawn into this man's world easily, and the use of a very unconventional sound design is intentionally disorientating and even confusing at first, but becomes fully immersive, and often nearly as disturbing as the visuals. 
Once again, we're faced with some graphic body horror. It's an immense compliment to Stewart and his effects team, Grant Mason, Deirdre Flanigan and Lizz Wayt, that I will admit to squirming at least once (and maybe even twice) during the course of the twenty-minute film. The work that they did on such a small budget is amazing, and is certainly painful to watch! Naturally, it would be wrong for me to reveal too much about it, it certainly benefits from being seen cold, but it's a stunning, if disturbing, piece of art.
There's a large portion of the film based in The Man's flat, lit only by the beams of sunlight streaming through the ragged curtains, and as such is rather dark in places. It's a testament to the cinematographer, Alan McLaughlin, that it looks as good as it does with such a difficult shooting situation; the natural light is used brilliantly. I imagine it would certainly look even better seeing this on the big screen. Which hopefully, you'll get a chance to do come the next round of film festivals. If it's playing somewhere you are at, do not hesitate to check it out. 

9 out of 10

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