Review by Chastity Campbell
Starring: Oleg Jankowskij, Evan Richards, Fay Ripley, Maria
Director: Anthony Waller
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 94 Minutes
Release Date: August 26, 2003
When someone sets out to do a movie, they first have to
have a story to tell. Scripting
can either make or break a film, it really is that simple! I don’t care how big your budget is or what an awesome
director you have, the scripting allows the audience to lose themselves within
another time and place…and what’s a movie without an audience?
Mute Witness suffers from bad scripting, bad
lighting, and in more than one case, bad acting. However, I will be fair and say that if the actors have
nothing to work with. it’s very hard even for big Hollywood names to make
something good out of something bad.
Billy Hughes is a makeup and special effects artist on a
movie that is being filmed in Russia.
Billy is able to hear, yet she cannot speak, and adding to the problem is
the fact that half the people on set speak very little to no English at all.
Billy accidentally gets locked on the soundstage where the
movie is being filmed after the crew heads home for the night.
Unable to signal the guards who are locking the gates due to her
inability to yell for help, Billy begins roaming the building looking for
She hears noise coming from another sound stage and
stumbles upon what at first appears to be a woman participating in a porn film.
However, she soon realizes things are not what they seem as the woman is
brutally murdered for the benefit of the camera.
Gives a whole new meaning to the term ACTION, doesn’t it folks!
It seems that the Russian Mob is in the business of selling
snuff films to the highest bidder, and Billy has just become a witness to one of
those horrible acts.
I will give this movie the credit it deserves in terms of
pacing. This film
starts off quick and makes its points without hesitation.
The actual story itself had the potential to be interesting, as well as
suspenseful. The script is what
pulls it down and keeps it from achieving what it possibly could have been.
Maria Sudina plays the part of Billy and I will give her
tremendous credit for her ability to show a very wide range of emotions without
uttering a single word. She
was able to make Billy into a character you could really care for, be scared
for, and just in general like. She
was upbeat in the beginning and even after her terrifying ride through life and
death scenarios, she’s still able to smile in the end. It was a hallmark moment if ever I saw one!
This movie contains a cameo by a very well known name in
the Star Wars world. The
late Sir Alec Guinness had a small part and only a few lines as the Mob Boss
behind the snuff films. While
you can’t really critique someone’s participation in a film if they have but
a few lines, you can appreciate the fact that someone of his recognition chose
to put his two cents worth in so to speak.
Director Anthony Waller was also the writer on this
project, and while he does have a decent handle on directing, his script writing
could have used some work. Waller
has been the writer and/or director on films such as An American Werewolf in
Paris, The Little Vampire, and The Guilty.” All “B” movie type
films, with lower budgets and high expectations.
I’m not sure what part of his formula isn’t working, but Mute
Witness was late for class and only gets a “C” in my book.
I would not be among the throng of people who rush out to
video stores the day this one is released to pick it up on DVD.
However, to each his own, and good luck to those who are brave enough to
deal with the very bad Russian accents and the less than wonderful script.
The video quality on this disc fluctuated back and forth
between good and just okay. I
wasn’t overly impressed with the transfer, as there was a good deal of dirt
visible throughout. The dark
tones overpowered a lot of the scenes, and caused a lot of the movies detail to
be lost. The transfer had a
soft focus feel to it, which also added to the blur in details during the night
and evening scenes, which dominated about 90% of the DVD.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 on this disc was a decent blend of
dialogue and sound effects layered against the music bed.
There were no audible dips or drops; however, it was hard
due to the actors themselves to distinguish what was being said at times.
Movie trailers for Anatomy, Darkness Falls and Identity
are included, as well as subtitles in English, French, Korean, Portuguese,
Summary:Mute Witness is a “B” movie that seems to have been graded on a curve. Calling this one a “C” movie is what some would consider a gift. I don’t have it in me to be the voice behind the fiery curtain and outright tell someone to pass a movie opportunity by. I will say that this is one movie that I will definitely hit the mental mute button on!