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Plot, Details & Awards

Mute Witness

Rated R for violence and a strong scene combining sex and violence.

R In Theaters 09/15/1995 , 97min.
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Plot & Details

A mute American working on a low-budget movie runs afoul of the Russian mafia in this internationally produced thriller. Billy (Marina Zudina), a special-effects makeup artist who is unable to speak, is in Moscow working on a cheapie slasher flick directed by Andy (Evan Richards), her sister's boyfriend. Late one night, Billy returns to the set to pick up some equipment and stumbles on what appears to be the filming of an actual snuff film. Watching, unseen, as an "actress" (Olga Tolstetskaya) is bludgeoned to death before her very eyes, Billy flees the set, pursued by the snuff film's crew. Eventually, she escapes and tells her story to her sister, Karen (Fay Ripley), and Andy. The film crew convinces the police that it was simply some special effects that Billy witnessed, then they start a deadly cat-and-mouse game with the hapless Americans. The intrigue soon leads Billy and her friends to "The Reaper" (Alec Guinness), the shadowy financier of an entire snuff-film underground. Director Anthony Waller's screenplay for Mute Witness began as a tale of gangsters in 1930s Chicago, but he rewrote it to take advantage of Russia's analogous present-day climate -- and the country's cheap sets and labor. Unexpected problems, from a diptheria epidemic to unexpected fines at the customs gate, nearly sank the production. The director convinced Guinness to appear in the film several years before principal photography began; the veteran thespian was paid nothing for his scenes, which were shot in a single morning in Germany.

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