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"This is what you were."
Liev
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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.)

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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, or purchased on GOG.com here.


Provides Examples Of:

  • Ax-Crazy: Sadie does not like Storytellers.
    • Sadie does not like other women, particularly lovely ones. Consider her reason for being a drifter and personality.
  • Berserk Button: Don't remind Allel of her failure. Or taunt her. And. DON'T. Mess with Emma around John. In ANY form.
    • Ink's a little touchy about his inadequacy.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Subverted when Ink kidnaps Emma. He thrashes the main Storytellers before they call in reinforcements, and even then he still escapes. The best they do is slow him down.
    • The Pathfinder manages to activate a magical distress beacon just in time.
    • Also Ink. Granted, he was in the room the whole time, but The Reveal hits him in time to pull a Heel–Face Turn and rescue Emma.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The one and only time that Ink is at a disadvantage in a one-on-one fight, he makes it clear that he would rather kill Emma and lose his chance to join the Incubi than be defeated.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Natural Light = Real World. White, Green, and Amber/Gold are the Spirit World, Nightmares (and Incubi-induced thoughts), and Dreams respectively.
  • 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..
  • 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.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Part of the Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts scene involves a teenage skateboarder crashing into another person because he's distracted by the cleavage of a woman bending down to pick up some flowers.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Creepy guys standing bedside as little girls sleep.
  • Dreams vs. Nightmares: Storytellers give people good dreams and are seen as benevolent, while Incubi give people nightmares and are seen as evil.
  • Driven to Suicide: In one reality, John does this after the loss of both his wife and his daughter. This leads to him becoming Ink after his death.
  • Epic Hail: Jacob's call for backup, which fires a giant pillar of light into the sky, quickly followed by the click-popping of dozens of Storytellers appearing.
  • Epiphany Therapy: The Storytellers give John dreams of his dead wife to convince him that seeing his daughter is more important than his job.
  • Foil: Ink is a foil for John as they the same person. It also seems that Liev is meant to remind Ink and Emma of the wife/mother.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mood Whiplash: Jacob's Punctuated! For! Emphasis! moment is immediately broken by his continued antics.
  • 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.
  • Reset Button: Two - the one that fixes things broken when Storytellers fight, and The Stable Time Loop-breaking one at the end.
  • 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.
  • Stable Time Loop: The Incubi's plan for Ink's initiation ritual is to create one.
  • Start of Darkness: John's great successes, while individually good things, led to his corruption and the neglect of his family.
  • Stepford Smiler: Aside from the Prince, every single one of the Incubi has a screen in front of their faces which projects this image. And they have sharp teeth.
  • Tearjerker: "She's going to be okay." The scene is even worse if you close your eyes and turn the sound up.
    • Emma, about to be sacrificed: "When I die will I be a storyteller like you?" Liev: "No. You will be much greater than that."
  • Tomato in the Mirror: See The Reveal above.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Liev gets one from Sadie.
  • Uncanny Valley:invoked Purposefully and rather effectively done with the Incubi. The screens in front of their faces greatly distort and exaggerate their Stepford Smiles to a disturbing level.

 
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"WAKE UP!"

With his plans derailed by Jacob's gambit, the Incubus that's been haunting John is left unable to influence him while he's unconscious. His smile beginning to fade for the first time, he can only scream impotently at John to wake up - before being forced to flee.

How well does it match the trope?

4.43 (7 votes)

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