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With Jim Sabatini

Mute Witness

Mute Witness
Marina Sudina and Fay Ripley

Rated: R for nudity and violence.
Reviewed by: Chris  
Release date: September 15, 1995 Released by: Sony Pictures

This thriller is a strange mix of murder, humor and the porno business.

Three Americans are filming a slasher movie in a Moscow studio using a Russian crew. The director, his wife and her sister, Billie (Marina Sudina), a mute make-up artist, get involved in much more than their own moviemaking when Billie mistakenly gets locked in the studio overnight.

Billie witnesses a couple of Russians filming a snuff movie where the blond actress is murdered. The men discover Billie and chase her down unending dark corridors, elevator shafts and into a cellar filled with garbage bags holding what appears to be the remains of the murdered woman. Most of this is pretty suspenseful and Sudina is very effective as a woman who can communicate only through sign language.

The killers work for a large porno ring headed by "The Reaper," and both they and the KGB are after Billie for different reasons. This heroine is no mere damsel in distress. She thinks and fights her way out of every situation.

Writer director Anthony Waller uses some humor to break up the action. After a particularly bloody scene, he cuts to a restaurant where the actor is pouring ketchup all over a raw piece of meat. Also, Billie's sister and brother-in-law are a bumbling due who are more a hindrance than help.

The cars, clothing and Russian selling give the film an old-fashioned look but the plot is decidedly modern. It's an odd mixture and it seems to work.

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