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4.0 out of 5 stars Above average horror film
An entertaining if not very well known thriller/horror film from the 1990s. In Moscow, a slasher film is being shoot at midnight in an old, decrepit studio (the setting is a plus for the movie, since in the 90s, Moscow had a reputation as an anything goes, mafia infested city). Billy, a mute make up artist (played very well by Marina Zudina, a beautiful Russian actress)...
Published 12 months ago by Andres C. Salama

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ok
Would have been better watching it a few years ago.
I brought this for a friend who remembered liking it. Even she said she remembers it being better when it was made.
It's still a good film but not scary in the least!
Published on 17 Jun 2010 by Mrs. L. Thornley


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4.0 out of 5 stars Above average horror film, 1 Jan 2014
By 
Andres C. Salama (Buenos Aires, Argentina) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mute Witness [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
An entertaining if not very well known thriller/horror film from the 1990s. In Moscow, a slasher film is being shoot at midnight in an old, decrepit studio (the setting is a plus for the movie, since in the 90s, Moscow had a reputation as an anything goes, mafia infested city). Billy, a mute make up artist (played very well by Marina Zudina, a beautiful Russian actress) accidentally witnesses a porno shoot there, done after hours, that soon turns into a real murder. When she is discovered, the homicidal crew of the snuff film starts pursuing her. More things happen that I won't reveal; the film is obviously not for everyone but is entertaining for those who like horror films, even though the ending is a bit of a letdown. The movie is also remarkable as Alec Guinness' last film: he has a cameo a sort of a mafia don.
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4.0 out of 5 stars She Won't Be Silenced., 2 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Mute Witness [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
Billy Hughes is a mute special effects make-up artist who's in Moscow working on a film, it's a horror film directed by her sister's boyfriend, Andy. After a particularly trying day of filming, Billy, her sister Karen and Andy are in the car park ready to go home, when Billy realises she's left a prop inside. Andy and Karen offer to wait for her, but she insists they leave and agrees to meet them later for dinner. Once she's inside, she happens to notice the janitor walking away from the building. Realising that he must have locked up, she tries to get his attention but he doesn't hear her. Billy hears voices from downstairs and goes to see if they can let her out, what she finds is one of the actor's from the film having sex with a woman while another member of the crew is filming it. Embarrassed to interrupt them, she stays hidden but is horrified when the man starts to slap the woman extremely hard across her face. As the woman struggles, he pulls out a large knife and proceeds to stab her repeatedly. Billy tries to move away quietly but knocks over a coat stand, the cameraman hears something but continues to film. Billy manages to get up the stairs but the men are soon in pursuit, she manages to get out of the building just as her sister and Andy arrive, and they contact the police. The police arrive and the men manage to convince them that it was all fake, even stabbing Andy with one of Billy's fake knives. The two men are later met by a mysterious man known as The Reaper, he refuses to pay them until there's no witnesses. Meanwhile, a detective called Larsen who has been investigating underground "snuff films" has been alerted to Billy's story.

Russian actress Marina Sudina gives a very effective performance as Billy, she's playing an American but as she never speaks, it's not a problem at all. It's amazing that she managed to impress me as much as she did without speaking, her eyes and facial expressions tell us all we need to know. English actress Fay Ripley who's probably best known for her role as Jenny in Cold Feet made her film debut in Mute Witness, she's pretty good as Karen but she does struggle a little with her American accent. Evan Richards whose performance I liked so much in Brian Yuzna's Society isn't quite as good here, but he's certainly not bad and it's a shame he seems to have quit acting. Russian actors Igor Volkov and Sergei Karlenkov are quite intimidating as the killers, and Oleg Yankovsky is likeable as Detective Larsen. Sir Alec Guinness also makes a very small appearance as The Reaper, this was his last film role and if some sources are to be believed, his few scenes were actually shot nine years before the rest of the film. It's really well directed by Anthony Waller who also wrote and produced the film, he never allows the film to become boring and shows some real flair for suspense. There's something that he does a couple of times in the film where the camera zooms in close to an actor's face and the music kicks in, I found it really quite creepy. The chase sequence shortly after Billy stumbles upon the murder is brilliantly done with her narrowly avoiding being seen, it's very tense and probably the highlight in the film. The music is good, there's a little nudity but nothing too gratuitous, and the blood is done well where it's needed.

The fact Billy is mute is one of the strongest aspects of the film, there's another excellent scene where she tries to phone the police but they can't understand the equipment she uses to help her talk on the phone, this is happening as the two men are trying to get into her apartment. I found the underground snuff film quite interesting as well, and I certainly wouldn't have minded the film going a little deeper and revealing a lot more about who these people are. While I really like the film, it's certainly got some parts I don't like. A man is electrocuted in a bath tub and the effects are questionable to say the least, Andy and Karen almost become the film's comedy relief in the last third, and introducing Larsen into the story also took away a lot of what made the first half of the film so good, Billy all alone outsmarting and evading these brutal killers. The first sixty minutes or so of Mute Witness is creepy, tense and brilliantly filmed, it's such a shame that the final 25 minutes or so almost ruin it. Far too much comedy and the undercover detective and people double crossing each other all became a little convoluted, but other viewers may like the humour and mystery that creeps in. Overall it's still a very good film that I'd definitely recommend to fans of suspenseful thrillers, even if it does start to lose its way towards the end. I was also quite surprised to find out the film only cost $2,000,000 to make, I assume changing the shooting location from Chicago to Moscow was done so they would get a lot more done for their money.

The DVD has very good picture quality and shows a lot of detail, it does go quite soft now and again but it's not distracting. Sadly there are no extras apart from a couple of trailers. You can watch the film in English or dubbed into German, French, Italian or Spanish. There's also subtitles in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish and Turkish.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Out of 10, this movie deserves 11, 29 Sep 2004
By 
Sharon Sutton "smsutton4" (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mute Witness [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
I first saw 'Mute Witness' at the Dublin International film festival several years ago. It was a ticket bought at the last minute and really to fill in time between two other movies I wanted to see. It was the best decision I ever made! Anthony Waller (the director) is a genius. This movie is Hitchcockian in suspence with rolling in the aisles comedy at the most inopportune moments. There is one scene that probably everyone will find distasteful but after that it is suspence and thrills all the way. Note the chase in the hallway where the claustrophobic atmosphere is maintained by outstanding camerawork which makes it look like the room is spinning.
This is my all time favourite movie, straight in at no. 1.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ok, 17 Jun 2010
By 
This review is from: Mute Witness [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
Would have been better watching it a few years ago.
I brought this for a friend who remembered liking it. Even she said she remembers it being better when it was made.
It's still a good film but not scary in the least!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars being scared has never been so much fun, 11 Nov 2000
By 
Jean Lievens (Brussels, Brussels Belgium) - See all my reviews
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When I saw the video Mute Witness, I couldn't believe that I missed this movie when it came out in the theatre. Apparently Seven overshadowed it, but Mute Witness is scarier and much, much more fun. It is one of the best-made thrillers I have ever seen and one of the rare movies with an international cast where the acting is really excellent. You could say that one of the main 'characters' is in fact the décor, the old Moscow film studios. As the movie starts with the filming of a bad horror movie, where the director shows us in detail how a murder scene is done (with phoney blood, knives etc.), you would expect that this would undermine the horror-effects of the so called 'real murders'. But on the contrary, it makes them all the scarier. The scene where Billy Hughes (Sudina) stumbles on the making of a snuff movie is one of the most horrible I have ever seen, although nothing is shown directly. The movie is very convincing thanks to the excellent and convincing acting, especially from the (Russian) actors performing minor roles (for instance the porn actress who gets slaughtered, or the Russian actress performing the 'victim' in the beginning of the movie, both marvellous performances). The surprising cameo role of Alec Guinness gives the movie an extra charm. Furthermore, 'Mute Witness' is a film with a very clever plot and subplot. For instance: you never know if the Russian undercover police officer is a 'good guy' or a 'bad guy', until the very last minute. It is a scary movie with a lot of humour (sometimes a bit overdone in my opinion); otherwise the suspense would be unbearable. Perfect entertainment the whole way through. A must see for every thriller fan.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Suspense thriller guaranteed to make you speechless!, 16 Oct 2003
This review is from: Mute Witness [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
It's a shame that "Mute Witness" never got the attention it deserved. When I first saw it, it scared the bejeezus out of me, and I am usually the first to be blase about horror/thrillers.
The story is set in a an old Russian factory that's being used to make (funnily enough) a horror movie. The heroine Billy Hughes is the mute special effects artist who is also working on the film. However, she finds herself locked in the factory by accident, and in trying to get out, sees a snuff movie being made.
What follows is some of the most gripping, suspenseful filmmaking since Alfred Hitchcock. From the dramatic, disorientating, and humorous scene that isntroduces the film, right through to the many rapid-fire plot twists at the end.
Of course, having the heroine play as a mute does provide several opportunities for the plotline's development, which are all used, perhaps to the point of nausea, and some of the acting can be a bit hammy, (the Director was definitely played for comic relief) but overall is effective when it counts! The humour is, fortunately, mostly subtle, and doesn't turn the film into a farce.
Mute Witness is the perfect film to watch on Halloween. It combines subtle humour with pure suspense, has a very twisted plot, without being over-elaborate, has a good bit of blood and gore for those who would prefer ('Jason vs. Freddy' over 'Psycho'), and has a hell of a pace to it, just try not to scream too loud....
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One line in the film sums it up, 14 Jun 2012
By 
Trionon (Cornwall, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mute Witness [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
It is the biggest piece of youknowwhat I have ever seen....Unless it is a spoof which would explain as it was had not to laugh in places, especially the toilet brush attack
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silent Scream, 30 Jan 2010
By 
Mr. Jonathon T. Beckett "vampire lover" (Dracula's Crypt) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mute Witness [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
Billy Hughes(Marina Zudina) is a make-up artist working on a film in Russia. When the location filming ends for the day, Billy accidentally gets locked inside the building being used for the sets. After a while she hears voices, so goes to find help. She is relieved to see cameraman Lyosha(Sergei Karlenkov), but backs away unnoticed when she realises he is filming a masked man and a woman having sex. The masked man then starts to beat the woman only to then put out a knife and savagely murder her. Billy watches terrified in the shadows. After managing to hide from the two men, watching in horror as they dispose of the body, Lyosha spots Billy and chases after her. She falls, but as Lyosha approaches her, Billy's friend Karen(Fay Ripley, here sporting a dodgy American accent) arrives in the nick of time. Noticing Billy has been hurt, Karen shouts over to boyfriend Andy(Evan Richards) to call for help. She then notices how frantic Billy is, and the police are called.
The two murderers manage to convince the police that Billy has imagined the murder, explaining it away as a special effects trick, but when Karen takes Billy to her apartment, the two men are visited by the mysterious Reaper(an uncredited Alec Guinness) who informs them they won't be payed until any witnesses to the snuff film have been silenced permamently. What follows is a nerve wracking battle of wits between Billy, and the two increasingly violent and desperate men. Oh, and one more thing. Billy is completely mute.
This superb thriller is an intoxicating mix of stunning visual nuances and highly effective set pieces that really crank up the tension to maximum. It is all very reminiscant of Hitchcock in his prime, as there are moments of humour to be found amongst the thrills. Just when you think the tension can't get any greater, another scene comes along to surpass the previous one. My favourite part is probably where Billy fights desperately to keep Lyosha and friend at bay in her apartment, frantically banging on the floor to get attention.
Its also nice to see a cast of 'real' Russian actors, rather than Americans playing Russians with bad accents. Zudina is wonderful as Billy in a role that is very physically demanding as it requires so much visual expression, and theres good support from Ripley and Richards as Karen and Andy, though the comedy does dilute the tension at times, maybe a good thing. My one gripe probably is the ending, with one twist too many, and too much details stuffed into too little time. However, what has preceded it has been so brilliant, that a little indulgence should be shown towards the slightly overblown ending. Highly recommended. 5 out of 5
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SHEAR PERFECTION, 26 Jan 2001
This is quite simply the best horror movie ever made. Forget SCREAM with the foney guy with a long white mask, thing blood, sex, violence and shear brilliance - then you have got MUTE WITNESS!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Waller's Surprise, 26 Mar 2006
By 
Terry Bee (Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mute Witness [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
The only other film I can associate with director Anthony Waller is the rather average 'An American Werewolf in Paris', so I was completely surprised by this little gem of a movie.
That Sir Alec Guiness takes a very minor role in it must speak for it's worthiness, but the real star must be Marina Sudina.I'll keep my eye out for her in future. Fay Ripley also adds staunch support.
It has everything, suspence, sex, violence and comedy, given to the audience in an ungratuitous way within a very good story line. This film will have you gripping the edge of your seat all through. The only thing that prevented me from awarding five stars was that the comedy was a bit hammy and didn't quite fit.
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Mute Witness [DVD] [1996]
Mute Witness [DVD] [1996] by Anthony Waller (DVD - 2003)
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