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.