Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman (2007)

All the kids in a town near Kanagawa, Japan, are talking about a local legend called the Slit-Mouthed woman. The woman appears to a child who is on their own, asking, "Am I pretty?" She then abducts the child and takes them to her secret hideout. What happens after that no one knows.

Three boys hear the rumor that she appears at 5:00 p.m. every day at a disused park, so they go to see. While they wait the town is struck with an earthquake. As it ends, the woman appears and takes one of the boys away.

The police and parents naturally believe that they are dealing with a very human child abductor disguising herself as the ghost. However, when walking her student Mika Sasaki (Rie Kuwana) home, teacher Kyoko Yamashita (Eriko Sato) sees the woman abduct Mika and, when the woman removes her white mask, it shows her mouth is slit like in the legends.

While the police wait at the house of Mayumi (Chiharu Kawai), Mika's mother, Ms. Yamashita seeks the help of fellow teacher Noboru Matsuzaki (Haruhiko Kato), who has a good idea of who the woman is and why she's returned.

30 years prior Mr. Matsuzaki had an abusive mother (Miki Mizuno), who would often go into fits as if she were possessed. His brother and sister disappeared, and finally one night his mother tried to kill him. With what little sanity she had left, she told him to "Aim for the neck." Since the words (as far as I can tell) are similar to "Am I pretty?" it turns out that Matsuzaki has been misinterpreting a voice he hears in his head before every child is abducted. While the legends say the Slit-Mouthed Woman cannot be killed, Matsuzaki knows that if he can find his mother's body and remove the head that the abductions may end.

This was much different than many of the Japanese and Korean horror films I have seen. No spooky girls with stringy hair over their face, but rather what appears to be a true demonic presence. The movie also deals heavily with child abuse, from the abuse that Matsuzaki suffered as a kid, the emotional and physical abuse that Mika suffers from her mother and hints that some sort of abusive outburst ended Yamashita's marriage. Many viewers may find it disturbing because it is rather graphic in its portrayal of violence against children.

Despite that, many American viewers may find this one of the more relatable horror films to come from Japan, as it really does not leave anything vague or unexplained. Not spoon-fed, mind you, but more of a regular straightforward plot than what most Asian horror fans are used to. It does set up for the sequel, The Scissors Massacre, that was released in 2008. I don't think it's made it here yet, but I'm interested to see where they go with this.

One last note: this is not to be confused with the pinku film from 2005 that used elements of the same ghost story.

Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman (2007)
Duration: 90 minutes
Starring: Eriko Sato, Haruhiko Kato, Chiharu Kawai, Miki Mizuno
Director: Koji Shiraishi


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