Into The Mud (Review)

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INTO THE MUD

THE SETUP

Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Writer/Director, Pablo S. Pastor for allowing me early access to an online screener of his 10 minute, Spanish Thriller short, “Into The Mud”. Into The Mud sees a naked girl (played by Maria Forque) awaken in the middle of the forest only to discover a mystery man (Ramon G. del Pomar) has something in store for her.

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THE GOOD

Into The Mud opens with some really sharp but subtle sound effects as our disheveled lead slowly comes to, she lay on plastic, unaware of her surroundings. From there, the score kicks in with what sounds like eerie violin, a tone similar to that of Tobe Hooper’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. Eventually it turns classically theatrical when the action picks up and the mystery man starts to track our girl. This heavily wooded forest makes for a wonderful setting and some solid cinematography. The standout shots are of Pomar’s feet as he tracks any movement in the creek that’s near a gorgeous clearing. The editing is tight, switching between establishing shots and then character activity. There’s some great attention to detail with the makeup, both characters looking grimy and worn out. A special mention goes to Maria for baring all and having the confidence to do so in a medium like film. You’re putting yourself out there for the world to see (relatively speaking) and that’s not something many would or could do. There’s a little more than meets the eye with Into The Mud and I was genuinely surprised by the outcome and how it all concludes. The film relies more on mystery than action but the practical effects on display toward the end were impressive, given the modest budget.

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THE BAD

I don’t know that it’s necessarily a bad thing but there’s only one very small section of dialogue (In Spanish without English subtitles). I’m going to assume that nothing of any importance was said during the phone call but some context wouldn’t have gone astray. My only other complaint with this quickie is that Pablo didn’t utilize some dolly shots which might have raised the production value even further. I understand that the terrain might not have suited that approach but things do seem a little bland visually with complete Steadicam (or handheld stuff).

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Pablo’s debut short clearly showcases his understanding of technical aspects and how to execute those well. I was very surprised with the high production value simply because this is his first film and that’s something that normally comes with experience. The setting is great, the score works well and the editing is crisp. Both Maria and Ramon do a solid job regarding their characters, seemingly given just a rough outline, arc wise (due to the lack of dialogue). Into The Mud grips you early and hits the sweet spot at the perfect time. There’s a couple of creative decisions that weren’t exactly what I would have gone with but hey, this isn’t my short (haha). This is one of the best short films I’ve seen this year and you’d do well to keep an eye out in the future for more films from Pablo Pastor.

My rating for “Into The Mud” is 8.5/10

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