Carved - The Slit-Mouthed Woman (Kuchisake-onna) (2007)

Lock up your daughters.
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Carved - Lock up your Daughters

J-Horror movies are not renowned for being sick and disturbing and usually rely on shocks, scares and an abundance of creepiness, Carved - The Slit Mouthed Woman (Kuchisake-onna) breaks this mould and manages to combine supernatural Japanese mythology with relentless depiction of and a flippant attitude towards kidnapping, beating the crap out of, torturing and killing children with an unhealthy amount of bullying thrown in. Although there is a supernatural element, the focus is more on the abusive mother turned malicious spirit entertaining herself with a large pair of scissors and ten-year-old frightened children, the fact that "The Slit Mouthed Woman" looks like she has had an unfortunate lesbian encounter with Dawn O'Keefe makes her sadistic actions all the more unsettling.

Kôji Shiraishi and Naoyuki Yokota created a truly terrifying entity with their interpretation of the Japanese myth, originally a compliment seeking wife of a sword-happy samurai brought up to date as an abusive and mentally unstable mother with a touch of bird-flu, a surgical mask and a flashingworthy trench coat... oh, and a massive pair of scissors ideal for inflicting slit-mouthedness on the younger generation. The movie Carved is not the inventor of the updated myth, the myth had already mutated into an urban legend in Japan but Asian bogeymen always seem to have more intricate backstories, Carved just adds an element of visual nastiness over the top. As is common in Japanese horror there is the occasional completely unexpected supernatural occurrence just shrugged off by the characters making the viewer wonder if weird shit really does just happen all the time in Japan and the locals just get used to earth tremors preceding the appearance of child kidnappers, but as previously mentioned these things play second fiddle to drawn out and purely evil child beatings. Seeing someone being kicked to death amid a vicious and bloody torrent of boots is traumatic enough viewing but to see a defenceless victim kicked slowly and repeatedly in the chest for long periods of time adds an element of sadistic and calculated tortuous evilness to the whole experience.

Haunted by a 30 year old urban legend, a suburban town is being re-menaced by the spirit of a disfigured woman whose beautiful face was slashed by her jealous and abusive lover. The children of the town are disappearing one by one and reports of a long coated, surgical mask wearing woman asking for her beautifulness to be validated are coinciding with the disappearances. No amount of ass-kissing from the child inhabitants can appease the narcissistic apparition and they either end up scissored (and not in a way Mrs. Garrison would appreciate) or kidnapped.

Luckily for the missing children an heroic teacher decides that it is her duty to find her missing student while she is still missing and not another body for the counting of. Hooking up with another teacher who believes that the killer may be the reincarnation of his mother the two start to question the local children to find out what they know about the slit mouthed woman. The movie then consists of clue uncovering, childhood flashbacks and a number of meetings with the murderess herself as she jumps from body to body via her supernatural croup.

Personally I think that my disturbance from this movie is probably a view that is possibly not shared by the majority of the horror community, animal abuse and/or child abuse is something that disturbs me, in all honesty most of the gore happens off screen and there was much more potential for this movie to push boundaries much further by showing some of the violence more graphically. The smile enhancement of one of the kidnapped girl's faces was a wince worthy scene due to what was happening but a part of me wanted to see the scissor blades slice through her chubby little cheeks followed by a torrent of blood. For a J-Horror this is a dark and twisted entry to the genre but compared to the French scissor extravaganza "Inside" it is pretty tame gorewise, the story is disjointed with numerous gaps but this is not a criticism as it adds a certain amount of unsettling confusion to the whole experience and compared to numerous Japanese movies this one makes about 74.3% more sense. Not your run-of-the-mill supernatural Asian horror and quite a refreshing break from the usual black-haired apparitions crawling around on ceilings, a must see if you don't like children! The tagline isn't "Lock up your Daughters", but it should be... except for the Austrian release where it could be taken too literally!
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Categories: Asian Horror Movies
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