Into the Mud is a brilliant short film that plays on some common survival horror tropes, but may catch you off guard with its spectacular ending.
The film is eight minutes long, but the constant tension makes it feel even shorter than that. The story follows an unnamed woman (María Forqué) that wakes up naked, caked in dirt, and laying alone on a tarp in the middle of the woods. She is injured and disoriented, but she gradually comes to her senses and understands her dire situation. She notices her abductor nearby and tries to slip away unnoticed while he is distracted by a phone conversation. He is an adept hunter ( Ramón G. del Pomar), and he notices her fleeing and relentlessly pursues her through the woods. This leads to some pulse-pounding moments where she is forced to hide and then move, trying desperately to evade him.
There is an excellent surprise at the end of the film that I won’t go into, but it caught me off guard and I truly love when a film can do that. This film isn’t quite ten minutes long, but it’s better than several full-length films I’ve seen this year.
I’m very impressed with writer/director Pablo S. Pastor’s storytelling abilities. This film is largely driven by its ability to make you feel sympathy for the woman, and although there are only a few lines of dialogue, it’s very clear what is going on. The cinematography and music do a fantastic job of keeping the tension high and creating an ever-present sense of dread. There are also a few practical effects that are incredibly well executed and oh-so-satisfying to watch.
Overall, I loved Into the Mud. It starts out feeling like something I’ve seen before, and then changes into something completely unexpected. It’s smart, unassuming, and surprising. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes horror – even a little bit.