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Friday, April 15, 2016

CARVED: THE SLIT-MOUTHED WOMAN -- Movie Review by Porfle

Much of Japan's creepiest film horror is derived from their popular ghost stories and urban legends. CARVED: THE SLIT-MOUTHED WOMAN (2007) is a prime example, beginning with the rumor of the titular ghost being passed from child to child at school until the entire populace is on edge.

Before long, kids start disappearing as the terrifying slit-mouthed woman, a trench-coated apparition with long black hair and a hideous visage, appears with her long, razor-sharp scissors. "Am I pretty?" she asks cryptically before snatching them away.

Two young elementary school teachers end up on the ghost's trail for various reasons--Ms. Yamashita (Eriko Satô) seeks to make amends for abusing her own daughter, while Mr. Matsuzaki (Haruhiko Katô) has a terrible personal connection that enables him to sense the ghost's next attack before it happens.

They encounter her several times before a final battle in her hidden cellar of death becomes an ordeal of unspeakable horror.

CARVED isn't nearly as blood-curdlingly terrifying as some of the Asian ghost stories I've seen, but it's the kind of macabre tale that brings back that childhood feeling of walking home in the twilight after trading too many scary stories with your friends.

With her staring snake eyes and gaping ear-to-ear gash of a mouth (the makeup is great), the slit-mouthed woman is an imposing presence.

The acting by the kids is very good, but if seeing children getting wasted is too much for you, you might want to skip this one. Because of this factor, much of the film is more disturbing than scary.

Kôji Shiraishi's direction is smooth and unobtrusive, with some cleverly executed shots. He stages the fright scenes well and maintains an unsettling aura of fear without relying solely on jump scares.

The finale is tense and suspenseful, and CARVED: THE SLIT-MOUTHED WOMAN fades out on a disturbing open-ended note.

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