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Billy Hughes, a mute makeup artist working on a slasher film being shot in Moscow, is locked in the studio after hours. While there she witnesses a brutal murder, and must first escape capture at that time, then keep from being killed before convincing authorities of what she's seen. Plot twists galore follow as Billy tries to stay alive. Written by
James Meek <email@example.com>
I went into this film expecting a slasher, and while Mute Witness does take influence from said style of film-making, this is much more than just your average slash flick. There are a number of thrillers that focus on a certain disability - blindness is more common (Blind Terror, Wait Until Dark, Cat o'Nine Tails to name a handful), but the implications of having a mute lead in a thriller such as this are well portrayed, and actually integral to the plot as the fact that the lead character can't speak is often the reason why she finds herself in dangerous situations that would be easy for anyone else to get out of. Our mute witness is Billy Hughes, a make-up artist working on a horror film production at a studio in Moscow. She finds herself locked in after hours one night, and after attempting to phone her sister for help, she stumbles upon what at first appears to be the making of an illicit sex flick, but soon turns out to be a snuff movie! She tries to convince the authorities of what she's seen, but finds that no one believes her story...
Recently Hostel made the headlines for showing snuff movie making in a foreign country, but this film did it first and actually does a better job. It's maybe not quite as nasty as Eli Roth's opus, but the gore is more effective, and since director Anthony Waller (who went on to direct one of my favourite modern thrillers with 'The Guilty') implements a good sense of humour into the proceedings, Mute Witness is both sufficiently gory and fun to watch. The director certainly has a talent for crafting suspenseful thrill rides, as this one never stands still. The plot is put into action quickly, and Waller constantly introduces plot twists which give a big helping hand to the overall entertainment value of the film. The acting isn't bad for a B-movie, with young performers Marina Zudina, Fay Ripley and Evan Richards delivering good performances. The atmosphere is gritty, and the Russian locations are suitably unfriendly, which helps the film to retain a foreboding atmosphere. Overall, Mute Witness is a much better film than you might expect it to be. The plot flows well, and the atmosphere and tension are spot on.
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