TIFF 2016. Shadow Shorts. Review of “Into the Mud” by Pablo S. Pastor

“Into the Mud” is Spanish fashion journalist turned director Pablo S. Pastor’s first short film that screened in the “Shadow Shorts” competition program at this year’s Transilvania International Film Festival after selections at the Leiden International Short Film Experience and the Nocturna Madrid International Fantastic Film Festival.

The film follows a young woman who wakes up naked in the middle of the woods. After the initial confusion and discovering she is hurt, she realizes she is being hunted by a man who is determined not to let her escape.

Opening his film with a quote by Aristoteles, “Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil,” the director explores certain notions of human viciousness motivated by one’s own interests like for instance money, as depicted in the film. The quote also refers to the chase in the woods, a chase worthy of any good horror film and very deftly executed, making pretty much the entirety of the short. The apprehension and fear referred to in the opening credits quote are nimbly achieved thanks to Roly Witherow’s music and close-ups of the two protagonists that increase the anticipation that climaxes at the end of the chase – and the film for that matter – into an appealing little twist, highlighted by Colin Arthur’s work on the make-up. Víctor J. Alvarado’s cinematography is crisp and captures the light peeking through the trees while the underwater shots are a particularly nice addition.

As far as the acting is concerned, María Forqué, the daughter of Spanish actress Verónica Forqué and Manuel Iborra, shows talent in “Into the Mud”, her first incursion in the horror genre. Her performance is highly physical and very good indeed. She is accompanied by the multifaceted Spanish artist Ramón García del Pomar whose turn is brief but on point.

Clearly inspired by horror cult classics such as “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “Evil Dead” and “I Spit on Your Grave”, this survival horror short not is only a homage to the horror genre but also a masterfully crafted, dread-conjuring slow-burner as well as a highly successful first foray into filmmaking, its director showing a new version of this subgenre.

Production: Spain 2015

Producer: Pablo S. Pastor

Director: Pablo S. Pastor

Screenplay: Pablo S. Pastor

Cinematography: Víctor J. Alvarado

Music: Roly Witherow

Editing: Víctor J. Alvarado

Cast: María Forqué (the girl) , Ramón García del Pomar (the redneck)

Color – 10 min.

Premiere: 29/04/2016 (Leiden International Short Film Experience)


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