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SLIT MOUTHED WOMAN
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Reviewed by: Dave Murray

Directed by: K˘ji Shiraishi

Starring:
Haruhiko Kat˘
Chiharu Kawai
Rie Kuwana

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A town lives in fear of the legend of the "Slit Mouthed Woman", the vengeful spirit of an abusive mother who abducts kids and kills them most grusomely. When some local school kids go missing, it's up to a determined and troubled teacher to save them. Until she crosses paths with a young man whose family history just might be the clue to the legend...
Is it good movie?
Based on the popular Japanese urban legend of the Slit Mouthed Woman, Tartan Asia Extreme's upcoming entry into the J-Horror line is mostly a run of the mill ghost thriller, with adequate performances and some creepy effects. However there are some scenes that you could call extreme, and I'm happy to say that while the movie as a whole didn't do much for me, those few scenes rubbed me raw in all of the wrong places!

K˘ji Shiraishi, director of the well made japanese film Dead Girl Walking and a contributor to the series Dark Tales of Japan, brings to this film a bleak vision of a small village held in terror by an abusive and terrifying matronly ghost, that seems to be possessing the less-than-nice mothers in town. Every time someone kills the spirit, unmistakable in her trenchcoat and wearing a hospital face mask, it turns out to be a poor mom who beat up on her kids. Nice twist, and nasty to boot. One scene that was used multiple times was of the ghost without her mask on, her face slit from ear to ear, as her jaw drops open in a bloodless grimace of inhuman proportions. Very nicely done indeed.

One of the things I love about Asian horror is the willingness of directors to push the extremes that Western filmmakers are afraid to (or hampered from pushing thanks to the MPAA). Scenes of child murder (with a rusty pair of scissors no less) create some of the more squirm worthy moments of the film. As well, the climax of the film is just damn creepy! Let's just say I'll never look at severed heads the same way again.

Most of the acting was not very impressive, with the exception of Haruhiko Kat˘, who stared in the original and far superior version of Pulse. Her turn as the frantic teacher kept the audience grounded through the film, despite the bland visuals and slow as a tranquilized tortoise storyline. Most of the actors filled their roles, and at most times the events in the movie just seemed a little too convenient. There was no real deviation from the standard "vengeful spirit" plot, which could have turned this movie from a ho-hum shocker into a truly terrifying experiences. The movie definately could have benefited from some attention to the narrative and even more extreme horror and violence. I mean, if you're going to push the envelope, you might as well punch all the bloody way through it, right?
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen - 1.85:1.

Audio: Japanese (Dolby Digital SR) and subtitles in English.
The Extras
Last Call
An okay movie with some seriously twisted creepy moments and an interesting take on a local Japanese legend. It reminded me at times of Takashi Miike's work: bland every day life tormented by extremities of violence and terror just under the surface. An entertaining if predictable ghost tale that takes some surprisingly grusome turns. Sadly, it almost seems like the movie could have been more extreme, and it shows. Ah hell....it still creeped the shit out of me, so it's all good!
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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