Mute Witness (1994) / Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for violence, language, nudity and sexuality
Running Time: 95 min.
Cast: Marina Zudina, Fay Ripley, Evan Richards, Oleb Yankovsky, Igor Volkov, Sergei Karlenkov, Alec Guinness
Director: Anthony Waller
Screenplay: Anthony Waller
Review published June 12, 2004
Although credited by many critics as a suspenser in the Hitchcock tradition, Mute Witness owes more to the works of Brian De Palma's slash-and-gash homages to the Master than to Hitch himself. The film starts off spoofing the ending of De Palma's Dressed to Kill, and fittingly enough, the "film outside of the film" does the homage justice by being just as terrific. Twists and turns abound in the plot, and the addition of a delicious sense of humor keeps the interest level engrossing, with each twist outdoing the one before in breathtaking fashion.
Marina Zudina stars as Billy Hughes, a mute B-Movie make-up artist working on a low budget slasher flick in Moscow. After the day's wrap, she ends up having to head back into the studio, where she stumbles upon a couple of the cameramen filming what appears to be a snuff film, in which a woman is brutally stabbed. But did she witness an actual murder or merely a test for the real film?
Credible actors fill the cast (most notably Sir Alec Guinness in a cameo role), but it's writer-director Anthony Waller (An American Werewolf in Paris, The Guilty) who impresses, making one of the most overlooked thrillers of the 90s. Quite astonishing that this is Waller's first movie, although he did gain some experience directing commercials Just like the ironic twists executed in the film, his first outing is a far better thriller than his idol, De Palma, has made in over a decade. Perhaps Brian ought to spend less time trying to rip off Hitchcock and more time ripping off Waller ripping off De Palma ripping off Hitchcock.
©2004 Vince Leo