Greek philosopher Aristotle’s famous words, "Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil," appear on the black screen in front of us before we're given even the slightest hint as to what we're about to experience with #IntoTheMud. This quote serves as a warning from the film's creators, letting us know that what we're about to witness will be abnormal, unnerving and drenched in pure evil.
A wounded girl wakes up naked in the woods. Dazed and in pain, her only companion is a hunter with bad intentions. Her only priority in this moment, is survival.
Into The Mud: Symbolism Is The Real Protagonist
The film opens on the bloodied, battered, naked heroine known only as Girl, played by María Forqué (the daughter of celebrated Spanish actress Verónica Forqué). The very essence of fear and vulnerability is displayed as the Girl exhausts herself through the strenuously brutal terrain of an unspecified country, evading capture from a violent and brutal Redneck, played by Ramón G. del Pomar.
The Girl and the Redneck are the only two characters we see, and they share virtually no dialogue whatsoever after the film's first few seconds. However, dialogue was certainly not at the forefront of the filmmakers’ minds, as Into the Mud is doused in very low-key but unnerving music and sound effects. These sounds not only complement one another, but create a terrifying atmosphere and enhance the viewers' anxiety in key moments.
Parables And The Anticipation Of Evil
While the film is only 10 minutes long, it certainly feels a lot shorter. One easily has the sense that there were some missed opportunities, especially with the character of the Redneck. An extra minute or two spent on him could have created an ideal aroma of emotional turmoil between two equally interesting characters — particularly in the film's final few moments. While the run time was effectively utilized, that two-character dynamic was something I would have liked to see more of.
Of course, that is not to say that there wasn’t enough time for some symbolic parables, which are poetic and only enhanced by the film's beautiful backdrop. It reminds me of a poem that perhaps Robert Frost would have written after he'd had a terrible nightmare.
Nakedness, purity and, of course, the presence of water all serve as symbolic components of Into the Mud. The Girl is exposed and caked in dirt as well as covered in scrapes and bruises, but the purity of her golden hair is forever bright and illuminating. The impression of celestial virtue is never lost as we follow the Girl through her plight. These symbolic elements are the building blocks that lead up to the film’s otherworldly twist, where we root for her as she finally quenches her thirst for water. Cinematically, water has had a long history as the symbol of rebirth as well cleansing one’s self of past dirt. This is much more of a literal allegory as the Girl washes off the dirt and blood.
Tech Specs And Critical Acclaim
After watching Into the Mud, one can easily see why the film’s makeup design by Colin Arthur and Sarah Pooley garnered acclaim, even winning the duo an award for Best Makeup at the Cinefantasy Festival in Brazil. Their work helps augment the grueling physical performance of Forqué.
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Cinematographer Victor J. Alvarado takes full advantage of the natural lighting as well as the framing of the trees, which almost hinder any sight of the blue sky and give the feeling that there is no escape. Each of these components play a significant part in the film, and to great effect. Due to the production team's effort, Spanish filmmaker Pablo S. Pastor’s short film has received international accolades, starting at several Spanish film festivals before finally winning Best Short Film at the Stock Shock festival in Canada.
It's probably best to watch Into the Mud without any warning of a twist. It's all the more rewarding after sitting through what at first appears to be a basic battle of survival between predator and prey. However, be forewarned, an unconventional horror movie is on the horizon here.
What did you think of Into The Mud? Let us know in the comments!