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The Slit-Mouthed Woman

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.

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

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

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