The Witness: Movie Review

At times, "The Witness" feels fresh and new and there's no denying that the production quality alone exceeds the usual Filipinos get from local films. The camera angles are different, the sequences longer and more elaborate and the set pieces looking bigger and more thought-out. But at its core, "The Witness" still suffers with amateurish acting from its lead, a story that's too predictable and a horror (or psychological) twist that makes little to no effect in getting that thrilling experience. "The Witness" may look great but it misses too much in the thrill or suspense department that we found ourselves bored more times than being into it.

Angel (Gwen Zamora) has just transferred from Manila to Jakarta to join her family who has lived their for the past decade. Since her move, Angel has had nightmares about a man committing suicide. One night, Angel witnesses as her family is murdered by an unknown assailant. Her parents, her sister Safara (Kimberly Ryder) and everyone else are killed except for Angel who manages to survive a shotgun wound to the back. Haunted by her sister Safara, Angel decides to find out who and why the assailant killed her family in the first place and maybe finally she and her immediate family's soul can find peace.

The biggest asset for "The Witness" is its Indonesian roots. Maybe our local filmmakers can learn a thing or two from our fellow Southeast Asian brothers because clearly this exceeds what they usually give out. The film is consistent overall with its visual quality - this is one without jerky cuts or scenes that switch video qualities instantaneously and heck, even the shotgun blasts were believable and had impact. Also, the sets had their own grandeur and the makeup (especially for the "ghosts") come out naturally. Another thing that caught our attention is the aural department. The film does feature a theme song (like the ones we get from our own romance movies) but the song is actually tightly-integrated to the story and not one that only has the same title as its namesake film. The sound track and sound effects were effective in our opinion. It brought more depth to the scenes and it is as good as the visuals. We're not pretty sure what the budget was for "The Witness" but this is clearly what the local film industry should push for as a short-term goal.

Now, not all was smooth sailing for "The Witness". The film clearly lacks a meaty, compelling story or even memorable characters. Minus the lead and her sister's lovers, everyone feels dull and dead. The friend who never introduces herself properly or the detective that doesn't do anything to help the murder case - they just come out every so often but really they did or contributed nothing. The story was also a huge letdown. It became extremely predictable towards the end and it had a tendency to do very long scenes a bit too much. The reveal alone for example ran for at least 15 minutes by our estimate and a lot of scenes were done with a slow-mo effect which prolonged those even longer. Finally, the acting was subpar especially Gwen Zamora. Her performance was one-sided at best and she had a tendency to be annoying with her forced cries and screams. "The Witness" did some parts extremely well but also botched others onto the other end of the spectrum. The only promising thing it gives us that it not only proves that "inter-country" collaborations might actually work but it might also show us what our local industry lacks.

Rating: 2 reels

Why you should watch it:
-great visuals and consistent filmmaking we rarely see on local flicks

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- the story had too many long scenes and the story was extremely predictable
- no thrills whatsoever
- bad acting by the lead ruins the experience