Sickness and motherhood are demonized in parochial Japanese shocker "The Slit-Mouthed Woman." With imagery and phobias that are endemic to Japan, this low-budget chiller is unlikely to join the international remake stampede.

Sickness and motherhood are demonized in parochial Japanese shocker “The Slit-Mouthed Woman.” With imagery and phobias that are endemic to Japan, this low-budget chiller is unlikely to join the international remake stampede. Nevertheless, pic has an unsettling quality that transcends its cheap origins. Asia-themed fests looking to round out their horror sidebars will want to look. Local release is skedded for mid-March.

After a 27-year respite, the town of Midoriyama is revisited by a scissors-wielding ghost woman whose additional trademarks are an ear-to-ear gash and a medicinal mask commonly worn in Japan to prevent spreading colds. The demon’s killing sprees (foreshadowed by a telling cough) coincide with violent mothers, like guilty divorced teacher Ms. Yamashita (Eriko Sato), physically reprimanding their helpless children. Pic makes much ado about excessively disciplinarian moms, but a viciously misogynistic climax reveals the yarn’s hidden fear of a matriarchy. Helming has a rushed quality implying quick turnover, and thesps are stiff, with the impressive exception of Sato. Special effects are hokey, but imagery disturbs. Other tech credits do the job.

The Slit-Mouthed Woman

Japan

Production

A Tornado Film production. (International sales: Twins Co., Tokyo.) Produced by Takafumi Ohashi, Kayako Hanamura, Saori Yabe, Hirokazu Kokago. Executive producer, Shuntaro Kanai, Yoshimitsu Yoshitsuru, Nobumasa Miyazawa. Directed by Koji Shiraishi. Screenplay, Shiraishi, Naoyuki Yokota.

Crew

Camera (color), Shozo Morishita; editor, Shuichi Kakesu; music, Fujino Chika, Wano Gen; art director, Kazuhisa Hatakeyama; makeup, Takashi Oda. Reviewed on DVD, Berlin, Mar. 3, 2007. (In Berlin Film Festival -- market.) Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Eriko Sato, Haruhiko Katou, Chiharu Kawai, Rie Kuwana, Kazuyuki Matsuzawa, Miki Mizuno, Saaya Irie.
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