Carved – The Slit-Mouthed Woman
Romaji: Kuchi Sake Onna
Release Date: 17th March 2007 (Japan)
Running Time: 90 mins.
Director: Koji Shiraishi
Writer: Koji Shiraishi,
Starring: Eriko Sato, Miki Mizuno, Yurei Yanagi, Haruhiko Kato, Chiharu Kawai, Rie Kuwana, Kazuyuki Matsuzawa, Kaori Sakagami, Ryoko Takizawa, Manami Hisamoto, Mei Tanaka
Koji Shiraishi (Occult, White Eyes) used the documentary format in Noroi: The Curse to make a conventional J-horror different. Here he updates a classic Japanese urban legend by interweaving modern themes and characters into the familiar story.
Thirty years ago, the streets of a suburban town named Midoriyama were terrorised by a beautiful woman. She was tall and had long hair. Her mouth was covered with a mask. She would roam the streets and ask people, “Am I pretty?” She would then reveal her mouth which was slit up to her ears. Her jealous husband had disfigured her face. She would then take people to her hideout and slit their mouths in a similar fashion. Everybody knows this urban legend. When a young boy disappears his friends claim that the slit-mouthed woman is back in town. Kyoko Yamashita (Sato) is a new teacher starting at the school the boy attended. She, like the authorities, is concerned and takes measures to protect the children. When one child she escorts home, Mika (Kuwana), disappears she sees the slit-mouthed woman first-hand. A fellow teacher named Noburo Matsuzaki (Kato) seems to know something about what is going on and he is determined to stop it with Kyoko helping.
There are a few different versions of this story. The oldest version dates back to the Heian period (794 – 1185) which describes how a samurai slit the mouth of an unfaithful wife/concubine and asked her “Who will think you’re beautiful now?” The scarred woman would then wander streets her mouth covered with her kimono and ask people, “Do you think I am pretty?”
If a person answered she would lower her sleeve and reveal her ghastly visage and ask, “Do you think I am pretty now?”
Whatever the answer she would then mete out a fate similar to the one she suffered. The legend has persisted in Japan and turned into a popular urban folk-tale, altering and updating every time it is retold and adding new touches like her facial disfigurement is the result of plastic surgery gone wrong. She also wears surgical masks which are used to stop the spreading of common colds serving a double purpose as they can also hide the grotesque disfigurement. There are usually twists added such as ways to outwit the ghoul which involves giving her a lollipop.
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