Spanish short film Into the Mud had me anticipating one type of horror film but pleasantly turned my expectations upside down as it wound up delivering an amazing surprise. It also had me expecting an exploitative exercise of its star but shattered that notion as it instead showed a bravura performance on the actress’s behalf.
Writer/director Pablo S. Pastor sets Into the Mud up as a survival horror film. In its opening image, a young woman (MarÃa ForquÃ©) is shown naked, bloodied and covered in mud, gasping for air, lying on a plastic sheet in a wooded area. She has a nasty hole in her chest, which she soon learns was made by a man (RamÃ³n G. del Pomar) with a rifle standing near her. She makes a dash for the trees as he follows in pursuit. It is during this chase that Pastor pulls the rug out from under viewers in a way that had me startled and smiling at the same time.
After seeing Into the Mud the first time, a second viewing affords a new look at the proceedings, as viewers can see things that may have gone unnoticed or unrealized during the first time watching. That’s just fine, as the short certainly deserves a second look.
MarÃa ForquÃ© is fearless in her role as the injured woman. She spends the entire film naked, often dragging herself along the ground or in other uncomfortable situations in nature. She gives a stunning performance with her range of facial expressions and her body language in this short, which has almost no dialogue. ForquÃ© comes from an extended family of actors and filmmakers, and she shows that acting is in her blood. RamÃ³n G. del Pomar also acquits himself well in his role as “Redneck,” the pursuer.
Pablo S. Pastor has created a unique, exciting story, and his direction is taut and unflinching. Cinematographer/editor Victor J. Alvarado’s shots get right up in the thick of things, with close-ups of the actors’ faces and body parts, casting an unblinking cinematic eye on events. Victor Javier Bernardos’ special effects makeup work is splendid, as well.
Into the Mud is currently making the festival rounds and has begun picking up awards along the way. Add this top-notch shocker to your list of must-see shorts for the coming months.
Into the Mud: (4.5 / 5)