31 Nights of Horror (#3) | 2017
On this episode of The Nightly Chill:
Cinematico Magnifico continues his search for late-night scares beyond the walls of The Last Video Store on Earth. Tonight, he looks at Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman, based on the Japanese urban legend!
NOTE: All movies reviewed for “31 Nights of Horror” are currently available to stream in the US via Shudder, a horror-centric streaming service.
When an earthquake suddenly shakes up a small Japanese suburb, the locals are not only given a brief fright but a sleeping evil is also stirred from its slumber, eager to once again haunt and kill whoever crosses its path in Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman.
CARVE? MORE LIKE, “HACK”
Brought to us by prolific horror director, Koji Shiraishi, Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman–also known by its Japanese title, Kuchisake-onna–is arguably one of the most frustratingly bad movies–horror or otherwise–to be released in the past decade.
The barely-there acting, sloppy framing and cutting, pacing so slow even snails would take great offense in a direct comparison, nonsensical logic and rules, and a distinct lack of scares and violence and blood and gore. There is simply nothing done right in this movie.
In fact, the only thing more confusing and frustrating than watching Carved is to learn that, upon its initial release, the movie was actively praised by a number of outlets, including Variety magazine.
Now, there’s certainly something interesting to be derived from its premise, one rooted in the titular Kuchisake-onna, which is a fairly modern urban legend about a malicious spirit that plays a violent and often deadly game with its victims. But Shiraishi does everything he possibly can to forcibly declaw and defang the entire premise.
MOSTLY HARMLESS; UTTERLY POINTLESS
The movie not only looks like it was shot and edited for TV, but the acting and action is so bad that, at one point, there is a long, oddly framed shot of the Kuchisake-onna kicking a girl like a sack of potatoes.
And it’s not some swift, hard-hitting soccer kick to a frightened, hurt individual. Instead, it’s a small, lazy poke with a foot followed by a cartoonish thud and a wholly unconvincing grunt of what is supposed to be pain. And this shot just lingers and repeats for a good 30-60 seconds before the actress just stops and slowly moves on to her next mark.
Everything in this movie is downplayed to the point that you might mistake what you’re watching for an extended, sequential series of outtakes or rehearsals. The actors deliver their dialog with all the emotion of a corpse, as if they’re reading their lines for the very first time. The lighting is flat and as lifeless as the performances. And none of this even begins to touch upon how contrived the plot is. For as basic as it is–a wicked woman dies only for her evil spirit to be woken in the present day to continue her unmotivated killings–Shiraishi just strings together a number of loosely connected scenes and characters. There is no attempt to make us care about even the most innocent of victims. No effort put into scaring us. No concept of how logic works into the supernatural aspect of the monster–she simply does something new every now and again and we’re given heavy-handed exposition explaining everything.
The strangest thing of it all is how Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman is every bit as dull and harmless of a movie as the number of comics and various internet stories based on the urban legend are legitimately spooky and unsettling. And I would highly suggest you seek out such comics and stories–readily and legitimately available online for free–than to spend even ten minutes with this movie.
Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman is a firm NO CHILL.