A 2009 low-budget indie fantasy film directed by Jamin Winans. When people go to sleep at night, certain beings come to them and give dreams. Storytellers supply happy images, while Incubi are evil creatures who give people nightmares and encourage vanity or despair in the individual. These creatures are both usually unseen by mortals and exist in a murky, dream-like mirror world of our own. However, neither of these creatures can directly influence the real world. It is implied that Incubi can indirectly influence certain individuals during the daytime, by building up their pride or tearing them down through whispers of despair.The main story is centered around a little girl, Emma, who is abducted into the dream world by the namesake villain Ink. A group of Storytellers try to rescue her by bringing her separated father to her bed as her body lies in a coma. This involves one of the coolest chain reactions in film. (Which is no surprise, considering it's made by the same people who brought us Spin.)The movie hit it big on bittorrent sites in early November 2009. The director squealed with glee. This reaction was the second admission by a film director or film producer that "unauthorized" downloads can be good for getting the word out for a work.Can be watched online via Hulu here.
Black and White Morality: It's pretty obvious that the Storytellers are all good and Incubi are all bad. The drifters, however, are mostly neutrally in the middle, not caring to choose either side. There are a few who are shown to be swayed in their allegiances, though.
Which is lampshaded by Jacob nearly the second it's introduced.
Sarah: In case we need the big guns.
Jacob: If all goes peachy, we will.
Cheshire Cat Grin: Most of the Incubi invariably walk around with permanent Stepford Smiler faces, although the Keymaster Incubus in particular has a creepy moment where you see the smile spread across his face from his initially neutral expression. It seems to stretch pretty wide.
Cluster F-Bomb: John has one of these before his crash in the beginning of the movie.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: John is an example, albeit because he has let his professional life consume him to the exclusion of his personal life. He even mentions that the lives of thousands who are affected by his dealings are his responsibility, and that by neglecting his job he may harm all of them. He may be exaggerating to slake his vanity, but for a film that emphasises on the nature of cause and effect we never get an idea of how many fathers may be torn from their daughters due to John's ultimate decision..
The basic dream world is faded except for that last bit at the end..., the Incubi world is green, and the Incubi have masks that make their faces monochrome and apparently less terrifying than when removed.
You can guess how some of them stack, but others are a complete surprise.
Dissonant Serenity: When John is walking through the hospital to find Emma's room, while the Storytellers are having a huge brawl with the Incubi all around him. Justified in that the fighting takes place in another plane of existence that he can't perceive.
The Gadfly: Jacob, at times. Lampshaded by Jacob himself.
Jacob: Shake the shit out of 'em. It's what I always say.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Ink's pallid, goblin-like appearance is referred to as scarring caused by his suicide. It's also his motivation in that he believes joining the Incubi will rid him of his ugliness.
If you look closely, he has scars, or at least very thick veins and imperfections all over his head.
"Hell Yes" Moment: The ending gets two of these: when Ink realizes who he is and delivers an enormous can of whoopass and when enough Storytellers show up to drive off the attacking Incubi from the hospital.
Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain - Ink, so very much. He isn't even very ineffectual, aside from letting the key-drum which would have allowed him instant access to the Assembly (and made the movie MUCH shorter) get broken, but the Incubi like to play off of his low self-esteem. That, his sheer determination, and a series of sympathetic moments put him in Anti-Villain territory by the end of the movie. Then he has his Heel-Face Turn and kicks EPIC amounts of Incubi ass.
Large Ham: The Pathfinder, again. Sadie also hams it up quite a bit as well.
Left Hanging: What would the exact repercussions of Emma's death at the hands of the Prince have been?
Leitmotif: A particular static noise follows the Incubi, the pops of the appearing Storytellers, and Jacob's "One, two, three, four" and its sometimes accompanying music. Even the drum 'keys' could be considered this.
Meaningful Echo: The 'fighting monsters' John does. Especially, "You mess with my daughter, you mess with me!", albeit non-verbally.
This is who you were; Something's got to stop the flow.
The forehead touch, especially at the end.
This is who you will become; This is who you will choose to be. You don't have to choose this.
And so, SO much more.
Meaningful Name: Many of the Storytellers have names from the Bible (i.e. Gabe, Sarah). The Storyteller who goes to help Emma and is captured by Ink is named Liev, which means "godly one" and it's also an anagram of 'live', which seems to be what she's urging John/Ink to do. Ink sounds like the first part of Incubus, as in, he's an incomplete incubus.
No Budget: Made on a quarter of a million dollars.
No Name Given: The Collector. All the other storytellers and drifters with speaking lines have names, even if only listed in the credits, like Gabe. But the Collector is only listed in the credits as "The Collector.
Obfuscating Insanity: Jacob. Allele clearly has him pegged as a deranged lunatic that takes an odd pleasure in annoying other people, but during the Disaster Dominoes sequence, it becomes quite clear to her and the viewer that he has an incredibly sharp mind, and sees more than all of the other Storytellers.
Our Ghosts Are Different: The spirits of the dead can end up either as Storytellers, Incubi, or Drifters. Storytellers are good people who give people happy dreams (and can kick ass when needed, but not affect the physical world). Incubi give people nightmares and try to influence them to increase the amount of pride and selfishness in the world. Drifters are the most like traditional ghosts, owing allegiance to neither side, and most seem to be caught up in the obsessions they had in life. All spirits can be killed by another in the same way that humans can be killed, but it never says what, if anything, happens to them after that.
Pet the Dog: Ink gets one when he prevents Sadie chopping off all of Liev's hair and further humiliating her.
Power Fist: Gabe breaks out some brass knuckles for the climactic fight.
Redemption Equals Death / Redemption Earns Life: This is a tricky one. After realizing his Tomato in the Mirror status and saving Emma, Ink asks her for forgiveness and helps her wake up to find her father at her bedside. The John that we've spent the movie watching gets his daughter back while the one who became Ink no longer exists.
The Reveal: Ink is John from a Bad Future. Specifically, he completed his business deal, let Emma die alone in the hospital, spiraled into depression and blew his brains out, scarring his already twisted soul enough to turn him into monster.