Spiritual Warfare (Ink)

I cannot express how much I love this movie, Ink. I stumbled across it on Netflix way back in 2011 and have watched it several times, at least once or twice each year since. This film touched my soul even before I was a Christian and continues to influence and inspire me now that my spiritual eyes are open. There is so much to this film that speaks to Christian themes, but I will mostly be focusing on spiritual warfare for this post.

If you have yet to see this film, I highly suggest you watch it ASAP. Here is a link to where you can buy or stream the film. Ink is made by an independent film company named Double Edged films. It is basically Jamin Winans (director and writer) and his wife, Kiowa (producer). This power couple delivers a movie full of imaginative storytelling and creative film making. They truly deserve recognition, so I hope my post will lead to others supporting their work.

Alright...if you haven’t watched the movie yet, then be warned that spoilers will ensue.

This movie can be a little confusing upon first watch, it doesn’t follow your typical understanding of time and alternates between two dimensions. The way the two dimensions are interwoven throughout the narrative, we get the sense that what happens in one affects the other. You have the real world and the dream (or spirit) world. In the real world we follow the main character John, who is a stock broker caught up in his work. We find out his wife died not too long ago and that his only daughter (who is no longer in his custody) is in a coma. His daughter, Emma, entered into a coma in the real world as soon as she (or her soul) was stolen in the spirit world. In the spirit world, Emma is kidnapped by a mysterious character named, Ink. Ink steals Emma in order to offer her as a sacrifice to the incubi. The Incubi are those who give us nightmares and Ink wants to become one of them.

In the spirit world, you have a few different type of people. There are the Incubi (who I just mentioned and are pictured above) and there are the Storytellers, who are those who give everyone dreams. Then in between are Drifters, those who are neither Incubi or Storytellers, that’s what Ink is. The Incubi give people nightmares by influencing thoughts of insecurities and fears. They are beings of darkness, we see them creep out of shadows and then they spread their darkness over people as they infect them with the lies that feed the nightmares. It’s not hard to see the Incubi akin to demons. The devil himself is called the father of lies. (John 8:44) How often do we really acknowledge that the lies that bred insecurities come from the devil and demons? I’d argue not enough. Lies we might believe about ourselves can be thoughts like, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m ugly,” or “I’ll always be alone because I’m unlovable.” Lies that lead to fear and shame are the devil’s main tactic to steal us away from the love of God. Let us not ever become blind to this!

On the flip side, Storytellers (main ones are pictured above) are much like angels. They are beings of light, they flicker into the real world through flashes of light and then spread their light into people as they give them dreams. The dreams they give are full of joy, hope, and love. As the devil speaks lies, only God (and those under His authority, such as angels) can speak truth. Truth leads to such things as love, hope, and joy. In the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago. (Titus 1:2) The way we battle the lies of the devil is by listening to and believing truth from God instead. Of course that’s always easier said than done. Ink is covered in the stench of shame, we know not where it comes from (yet) but we know that he wants to get rid of it and become “perfect” by becoming an Incubi.

When Ink was kidnapping Emma, he got into a fight with a bunch of Storytellers and one of them broke his portal key to the sacrificial room. So Ink has to collect parts of a new portal key from different Drifters in order to bring Emma to the Incubi prince as a sacrifice. While searching for the Drifters, Ink encounters a supreme Storyteller, Liev. She is said to be the one who can undo what has already been done. Liev tries to fight Ink to save Emma but Ink has poisoned Emma and threatens to kill her, so Liev surrenders herself and also becomes Ink’s captive. Continue to view the Storytellers as angels and the Incubi as demons, but see Liev more like a Christ figure, which becomes more apparent in the end.

Meanwhile in the real world, another group of Storytellers along with a Pathfinder, someone who can alter the real world, are following John (Emma’s dad). There is an Incubi collector following him as well, yet they don’t know why. John is in middle of negotiating a big business deal. He has used his success at his job to fuel his arrogance. When John learns Emma is in the hospital, he refuses to go visit her out of anger and pride. The Storytellers and the Pathfinder need to get John to the hospital where Emma is in order to make things right. There’s this beautiful scene in the film where the Pathfinder triggers a chain reaction of events that causes John to get into a car accident. While John is unconscious and being transported to the hospital, one of the Storytellers gives John a dream. In that dream he remembers meeting his wife and the joy of being a husband and father; which gave him a sense of hope and peace. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts. (Romans 5:5) John’s pride and shame are humiliated through the love he had (and still has) with his family.

When John wakes up at the hospital, he is conflicted about finding Emma. He knows he needs to forget about work and go be with his daughter, but he is battling shame and fear. The Storytellers are there trying to encourage him from the spirit world. As he starts to get up and walk, a bunch of Incubi show up. One Storyteller guards John on his way to Emma’s room as the rest fight the other Incubi. This fight sequence is a powerful representation of spiritual warfare. Angels fighting off demonic attacks as they protect us on our spiritual journey. “For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:11-12) It’s hard not to resonate with John when I think about my weakest moments where I’ve felt spiritually under attack. It’s extremely encouraging to know that God has sent angels to minister to my spirit during difficult times. (Hebrews 1:14) 

Tension really starts to build as we flip back and forth between the two different worlds and see how interconnected they are. In the spirit world, Ink has now brought Liev and Emma to the Incubi inside the sacrificial room. The dark prince of the Incubi stabs Liev and places Emma to be sacrificed. Ink turns to Liev as she is dying and says he doesn’t understand why she allowed herself to be here and to die. She says she is here for him, that she sees him for what he was intended to be and not what he has (or could) become. Then, as soon as John’s hand careases Emma’s forehead in the hospital, Ink remembers. He sees that who he is, is what would happen if John never went and saw Emma and she died. John would go on living an empty life hollowed out by pride and shame, which would lead to him committing suicide. After death, John would become Ink in the spirit world. And so, Ink now sees that Emma, who is about to be sacrificed, is his daughter. Liev’s death undid John’s suicide to create a new path for him. He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new " (Revelation 21:5) Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, all our sins were forgiven in order to give us a new life. All we must do is repent or turn from our old ways and follow Christ.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17) John bows his head to pray at Emma’s bedside. Ink runs to save Emma. A beacon is lit to summon dozens of Storytellers to the hospital. Ink fights and kills off the Incubi to protect his daughter. The Incubi flee the hospital. Ink asks Emma to forgive him and she calls him dad and embraces him. Finally, Emma wakes up in the hospital with her dad by her side.

Even though we have a multitude of angels fighting on our behalf, we all still have a choice to make. Just as John chose to be by Emma’s side instead of going back to work and how Ink chose to save Emma instead of letting her be sacrificed, we to have the choice to choose life over death. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. (John 14:6) The truth is, none of us are ever too far gone to turn back. God almighty is the one who was, and is, and is to come so He is not bound by the limits of time. (Revelations 4:8) Just as all the Storytellers helped changed a path John could have taken (or did take in an alternative timeline), Jesus’ sacrificial love covers all sin, that has happened or will happen. We are given endless opportunities to turn back and embrace His forgiveness and love. The spiritual battle belongs to God (2 Chron. 20:15), we must only submit and choose to live under His authority and gain the power of His love and protection.

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

Thanks for reading!! ^_^   Now if you still have yet to see Ink, please, go watch it! 


  1. Or maybe it was about expressing your authentic (story telling ) vs repressing your authentic self (incubi= inadmissable fantasies or feelings).

    Also, what's the difference between God and the mafia here? 'He'll protect you if you submit'? Wtf?

    1. Protection through submission is best thought of through the lens of a kingdom. God is like the King. Those who choose to live in the kingdom are protected by the king (mainly through his army and fortress). Submission is a choice freely made (at least in this context), not forced or bribed, therefore different than the mafia.

      The main point of this blog is to look at themes and concepts presented in visual stories (i.e. movies and tv shows) through a Christian lens, or to use these stories as a means to describe/explain theological concepts. So talking about self-actualization would be irrelevant...unless the fulfillment of self was talked about in terms of equating the full potential of self to that of the fullness of Christ. It's an interesting way to view the storytellers and incubi that you mentioned, but my take was presented to fit within the frame of the blog's objective. Now whether you agree or not with what I wrote, that's different.


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