Disc Reviews

Mue Witness 4k Review

Back in the 1990s in the UK, sometimes you might discover a film late at night on Channel 4 and just wonder about how it came to be and where the talent behind it came from and where they went. We are talking about those strange cult thrillers.

Mute Witness can be classed as one of those 90s thrillers that deconstruct how movie making is done. The opening scene sets about doing what the likes of Brian De Palma already had a crack at in the 80s by showing you a POV stalking culminating in a screaming woman who is then cut down and dies on camera. By the end of this, of course, it has been revealed to us that there is a room full of movie professionals on set watching the lengthy scene go on (and on) as the actress before them finally croaks and “CUT!” is called. Here we are introduced to our female “Mute” character Billy who is working as a special effects make-up artist on the Moscow set. Later that very evening she is wandering through the lonely set to find some of the film-making team engaging in a bit of BDSM pornography which then ultimately turns out to be a snuff film.

Billy ends up on the run through the building in a bid to escape the clutches of the murderers, and beyond that, it is a case of their word against hers.

Mute Witness is a delightful piece of filmmaking that balances the terror of trying to escape rooms without being seen along with a more jovial and tongue-in-cheek bit of humour where the film requires more levity.  This is definitely a product of its time and place.  The humour is much more European than it is American.

The aforementioned elongated setpiece of Billy having discovered the crime and trying to make her way out unnoticed is nerve-jangling and is strung along several times to really eke out the whole cat-and-mouse aspect of it. By turns, the second half of the film almost falls flat as it can’t begin to compare with these sequences – so instead of battling with itself it, instead, changes tune and becomes much lighter. If anything this is to the film’s credit as you don’t expect the film to swing in tone and still work, but there is enough onscreen charm from the cast for you to go along with it.

Major cinephiles will like to point out the inclusion of one Sir Alec Guinness in a couple of very short sequences. If they seem spliced in – it’s because they were.  The extra material covers the story behind his inclusion in detail.

Anthony Waller in particular sadly took a tumble with his following film (An American Werewolf in Paris – which to be fair may feature some of the worst special effects of the time, but isn’t without so sort of kitschy charm).

The picture quality isn’t the best Arrow Video has released. It is probably important to note, however, that the original film grain is an important aspect of the picture that they would want to retain for effect. Having said that, it is very noisy and sometimes dirty-looking throughout. Sometimes so heavy in noise that you’d swear they loaded the set with smoke.

A new director’s commentary from Anthony Waller is very inciteful throughout about the making of the film. Waller remembers the film and the making of it very well.

There are a couple of video essays. One that looks at snuff films in cinema, and another that analyses the film within a film. Both are well written and presented and worth a peek.

All in all it’s a decent extras package for a very much-forgotten film that is well worth revisiting.

Steven Hurst

Silent Witness is released on Released on 24th June

Full contents:


• 4K restoration approved by director Anthony Waller
• 4K (2160p) Ultra HD Blu-ray™ presentation in HDR10
• Restored original lossless stereo soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Brand new audio commentary by writer/director Anthony Waller
• Brand new audio commentary with production designer Matthias Kammermeier and composer Wilbert Hirsch, moderated by critic Lee Gambin
• The Silent Death, brand new visual essay by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, examining Mute Witness and its relationship with snuff films
• The Wizard Behind the Curtain, brand new visual essay by author and critic Chris Alexander, exploring the phenomenon of the film-within-a-film
• Original “Snuff Movie” presentation, produced to generate interest from investors and distributors, featuring interviews with Anthony Waller and members of the creative team
• Original location scouting footage
• Original footage with Alec Guinness, filmed a decade prior to the rest of Mute Witness
• Teaser trailer
• Trailer
• Image gallery
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais
• Double-sided foldout poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais
• Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Michelle Kisner

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