Short: Ink

Directed by: Andy Stewart
Written by:  Andy Stewart
Cast: Sammy Hayman

A crazed tattoo fan hatches a scheme to have the ultimate body art adorning his skin… with the cheapest possible cost.


 


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Whilst this is the most recent of Andy Stewart’s stunning shorts, it is also the one I’ve decided to review first. Unlike the previous shorts, SPLIT and DYSMORPHIA, this latest short expands the universe to encompass the wider society, shopkeepers, victims, and the authorities. Andy’s previous films have, as many shorts are, confined within either a room or a flat, here we see one of his damaged protagonists venture into the world we all inhabit.

The central protagonist here functions (barely it would seem) on the fringes of society, another of the unseen people we walk past or stand behind in supermarket queues everyday. He is also a fan of ink ( tattoos to those not into the scene), unfortunately he’s the number one fan of great ink. When he sees tattoos on others he wants it. Well, I guess if money is tight sometimes the only way to get what you want is to steal. Even if it happens to be attached to some poor unsuspecting person.

There’s no question this is a hard watch. Technically I can’t fault this, the script, character, performances, and of course effects are all hitting and exceeding the mark, this is quality short filmmaking that deserves all the success it can possibly get. With his examination of mental illness, with an intense through line of body horror this feels like a transitional step towards a possibly inevitable move to features. Rewatching Andy’s shorts is a gruelling experience, these are grim with a capital ‘G’, there is no compromise here… And after watching I feel affected by what I’ve watched. But honestly, not entertained, this is a trek people.

That said of the shorts I’ve watched in the last few years this is amongst the most accomplished and collected with his body of work to date I have absolutely no hesitation in calling Andy Stewart a 21st Century auteur. He is carving out a unique niche for himself with his material and I have no doubt that any future move to features will continue to explore the themes that appear so important to him.

Am I looking forward to watching 90 minutes of what Andy does? Not in the slightest. But I’ll endure it because his work deserves, or even demands, to be seen.



Andy Stewarts new film Ink a bit of a weird one to write about. On one hand like Split, it looks great and the cinematography, makeup and prosthetic effects within the film are nothing but outstanding – this is one good beautiful looking short. Well… maybe not beautiful – its from the man that made Spit and Dysmorphia, so its still quite a sickening ride.

The film centres around a man cutting tattoos of people and sewing them onto his own body. Naturally the skin is rejected and there is a lot of wincing, oozing puss and mopping stuff up with cotton buds all shown in GLORIOUS HD closeups until the police arrest him. There is no (disturbingly funny) payoff like Dysmorphia, or even a deeper meaning like Split. This was something I found sorely missing from Ink. As well as it was constructed, the visuals as well as the films premise were horrifying to me.

Ink seems to have one goal and one goal only and that was to invoke a reaction from the audience. Considering I caught this at Celluloid Screams the number of people around me shifting uncomfortably and wincing at what they were seeing was a little surprising. I really cant decide if with Ink I’ve found a film right on the edge of the line for me, unlike The Girl Next Door or Martyrs I have no qualms about watching it again, but Im not in any rush to.

Maybe I missed some symbolism within the film (like I had when I first watched the Babadook) there is certainly some to be found in the previous two shorts. But for me Ink seemed only to be intended to gain a visceral reaction from its audience and in that sense, it succeeded in quite a spectacular fashion. Im not sure where Andy Steward is going to go from here but I will be first in line to watch his next endeavour.



INK starts off very weird as we see a hooded assailant in a local shop follow a man home after he catches a glimpse of his tattoo. As we follow him home we find his aim to be replacing his own skin with the tattooed skin of his victim. Seriously….

Another short that properly turned my stomach watching this, if the makers aim was to disturb me and freak me out then well done guys, you succeeded! Just when you think this can’t get any worse, wait till you see the one that has been stitched to his leg. What are you asking me to review here?

INK is a very clever idea – the man so possessed by having tattoos resorts to such drastic and evil measures to get them, especially after the local tattoo shop won’t entertain him. It makes for an unpleasant watch and if that was the aim then it was well and truly achieved. It’s not like anything I’ve seen before or would probably wish to see again but it tells an interesting tale and the gore is amazingly well done, slow cutting scenes and images of bare flesh abound within this twenty minute short.

Interesting but not one I’d go back to.


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I was lucky enough to see Ink at Celluloid Screams in Sheffield, it was quite the experience. Then again all of Andy Stewart’s short films have been an experience that’s for sure.

Ink while not in the vein of Split, continues Stewart’s fascination with the body, this time a man’s obsession with tattoo’s (INK). Yet true to Stewart’s work it’s just not that straight forward as popping down to the local tattoo artist and getting it done properly, because frankly that would be rather boring. No our main character in this short has a much more interesting way of getting his INK. He steals it from people and then applies it to his own body, by removing his own skin and sewing in the tattoo. It is rather disturbing really, not just the application but the after effects as well, as the body rejects the new skin drafts and lead man gets sicker, you would think he’d learnt his lesson. No his obsession grows and the final tattoo just turns my stomach…..

Written and Directed by Andy Stewart, this is a fantastic short film, seems a rather unique concept and while Stewart tones down the body fluids here, there is enough to make you cringe. Much of that is down to Grant Mason who does the special make-up effects, which are incredible, the final skin removal scene is brilliantly realistic, and as I said turns my stomach. I am extremely impressed with Mason’s work on this film. Cinematography is superb as well, the film has a stunning look. Superbly lit in places and the flat scenes are very impressive, great work from Alan c. McLaughlin. Sammy Hayman, our man with the INK obsession is very good, he looks tortured, yet you sort of pity him, a fine performance by Hayman.

In all a very strong short film from Andy Stewart, I was really impressed.


Split is currently on the festival circuit

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Andy Stewart’s fourth and final short has started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.  The campaign is running till 1st March 2014.

 

 

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