Ashlea Wessel’s debut short, INK (2016), blends together a potent mixture of body horror, pregnancy horror, and creature feature, using a raw exploration of grief and trauma to shape its disturbing narrative.

INK is punk rock horror; stark, sexy, and dangerous. While it lacks a single word of dialogue, visual clues, sound design, and a gritty and powerful performance by Mishka Balilty draw the picture of a young woman struggling to cope in the wake of a traumatic pregnancy.


Tattooing can be a powerful reaction to life events, both positive and negative. It can be an intensely personal and symbolic practice, a way to memorialize, pay tribute, or signify personal transformation. It can also represent an attempt to confront fears or atone for past misdeeds. After an evening of attempting to drown her sorrows with malt liquor, INK’s nameless (and already heavily-tattooed) protagonist removes a large bandage on her belly to reveal a provocative, freshly-inked tattoo. But unlike her other tattoos, this new one promises to be more than just symbolic — the fears that it represents soon become all too real, as the short taps into some very real and intimate female terror.

Though the short takes place in a single room, the film never feels claustrophobic. Rather, it feels pregnant with sinister possibility. The moody, atmospheric score by Adrian Ellis is expansive and unnerving, effectively maintaining a steady level of tension throughout the nearly 10 minute run-time. The nightmarish surreality that permeates the short is heightened by the judicious use of editing effects.

Throughout its festival run, the short took home awards for Best Director (HorrorHaus) and Best Actress – Short (Brooklyn Horror Film Festival) and was nominated for Best Actress (PDXtreme) and Best Makeup (Filmquest). It made its online premiere on 13th Floor. Watch it here!

For more information, follow INK on Twitter @INK_FILM or like Grumpy Bones Pictures on Facebook.