I was quite unsettled with Kōji Shiraishi’s Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman, particularly because of the child abuse involved. Kids punched and kicked left me enormously bothered. The slit-mouthed woman is an urban legend that is often discussed by the schoolchildren. An earthquake occurs and the ghost of the woman with the slit-mouth arrives in a city to kidnap kids. A cellar in the red roof home of a male schoolteacher, Noboru--who was a serious victim of child abuse thanks to a psychotic mother that murdered his brother and sister--seems to be where the kids are taken to by possessed mothers, locals who begin coughing before ultimately being invaded by the spirit of the slit-mouthed woman. This process continues even though the mothers invaded are killed. Assisting Noboru is a fellow female schoolteacher, Kyôko--a divorcee whose daughter chose her father because of “accidental” slaps to the face—as the two try to find the slit-mouth woman and a missing student that is held captive in the cellar. As kids either turn up dead or in serious condition (the possessed mother stabs a boy and slices the mouth of a girl), it is imperative that the captured girl be rescued or she herself could be the next victim. Meanwhile the kidnapped girl’s abusive mother (paralleling Noboru’s mother, who so happens to be the slit-mouth woman possessing mothers) is out looking for her daughter, eventually finding the red-roof house herself. I think the film has plenty of blood-curdling ghoulish subject matter to appease the horror audience looking for such goodies. You get the creepy effects involving a slit mouth that opens to reveal a hideous visage as promised by the title.
How this woman came to be is told to us in flashback by the traumatized Noboru with quite a story to tell Kyôko. Kids turning up missing as the community is gripped in fear, with law enforcement trying to figure out where they are, as schools have faculty leading their students to families instead of allowing them to walk home unattended—not to mention what happens to them at the hands of the slit-mouth spirit that takes control of mothers—is quite the nasty piece of work that will certainly cause chills to viewers who find child violence disturbing as it did me. But how does anyone stop a spirit that seems capable to move from one body to another like an invading parasite using a host to harm and kill children? Noboru’s childhood horror story (regarding an unstable mother asking him to behead her by using a butcher knife directionally pointed at her throat) and how it could be the answer to vanquishing the slit-mouthed woman could be the anecdote. Let’s be honest: this film needs some sort of avenue to destroy the evil that is on the rampage so that we can root for heroes and believe they have any type of chance. The obvious possibility of a twist was always in my mind so if it happened I wouldn’t be surprised. Director Shiraishi made sure to deliver his ghoul and make her quite a memorable sight not to be forgotten. That a sequel would result probably shouldn’t have surprised anyone either. This kind of ghoul couldn’t have been limited to just one movie. I would say that the scenes that stand out all involve the scissors and uncovered face of the spirit as it threatens the heroes and children. Still open abuse so visible towards children was a bit too much for my tastes. Still if you aren’t bothered by that, this film might be considered easier to digest. Overall, it has its moments. I think the story is a bit silly and framing it around such a character was a chore that Shiraishi and company did the best they could with considering the circumstances. Not a total waste of time.