17th Aug2014

‘INK’ Review (Short Film)

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Sam Hayman, Austin Hayden, Gordon Holliday, Christopher Muir, Billy Hay, John Harley, Chris Goldie | Written and Directed by Andy Stewart


It’s only been two years since writer-turned-director Andy Stewart unleashed his first short film Dysmorphia on an unsuspecting public. The first in his proposed “Reflections” trilogy, that film was an impressive body-horror short that dealt with loss and mental illness. He followed that up with Split earlier this year; again another superb short film that dealt with one man’s [extreme] reaction to loss – only for his second film Stewart upped the ante in terms of gory special effects thanks to the folks at Grant Mason FX. Well Stewart, his producing partners – Chris Goldie and Gordon Holliday – and Grant Mason FX, return for the third and final film in the trilogy, INK.

Somewhat of a departure for Stewart’s trilogy, INK does not feature a central character dealing with loss. Instead this story is about addiction, the central character a loner obsessed with tattoos but without the money to pay to have any work done. So he finds other means to get what he wants. Yes, in an attempt to turn his body into a work of art our protagonist takes what he cannot afford… Instead of loss, this short is more about envy, jealousy and coveting that which we cannot have. The change in motivation is not the only difference between this and Stewart’s other work. Unlike Dysmorphia and Split, which saw its protagonists take our their “pain” on themselves, this is the first film in which the central character harms others in his pursuit of his end goal.

And whilst Stewart’s previous shorts slowly revealed its central conceit, from the very first second of INK you know that there’s something evil afoot. There’s a sense of dread running from the very first frame thanks to a superb score which is more pervasive and all-encompassing than that found in Dysmorphia and Split; and sound design that is as integral to the film as the visuals.

Once again Stewart has, in actor Sam Hayman, a compelling, multifaceted central character that – in the case of INK – the audience cannot feel anything other than pathos for, and that’s despite the fact that Hayman’s character is essentially a serial killer. It’s a credit to Hayman that without so much as a word, we the audience empathise with his predicament. And the final scene, oh that final scene! Where our protagonist comes to realise that his ultimate end goal will never happen, his addiction will never be satiated – the feeling was not one of relief that a killers spree has ended, instead I found myself sympathising with Hayman’s character, almost feeling sorry for the fact he could not, and now will not, find peace. Even if his idea of “peace” was twisted and lethal!

Running the gamut of emotion, from repulsion to pathos and everything in between, INK is a superb conclusion to Stewart’s trilogy. Now someone give this man a feature to direct!

***** 5/5


Comments are closed.