Three decades ago, a Japanese suburb was terrorized by the vengeful spirit of a woman in a surgical mask who asked victims, “Am I pretty?” before slaughtering them. Now, children in this community are disappearing again, leaving police and teachers to discover the reason and put an end to the new wave of carnage. Eriko Sato, Haruhiko Katô and Miki Mizuno star in director Kôji Shiraishi’s terrifying chiller.
Every horror genre needs a legend. Asian culture tends to differ in their kind of characters, though they still can be quite terrifying in different ways than the glitzy Western cultures. Carved sets out to establish a new character legend that might draw one to associations with Ju-on and such. Though this is no typical ghost chick entity. Carved has a history, a myth, an urban legend and a presence. The urban legend portion kept taking me back to the days of “Bloody Mary” or even our modern day “Candy man”.
Her name? Tthe slit mouthed woman. The name comes from her appearance which is pale, white eyed, and wearing a face mask which covers her ugly mouth scar. Her mouth is slit at each end enabling her to also open it to extremes much like an alligator. Her attire is a long Brown coat which she wears over her tall frame sporting a pair of sharp long scissors. Like Ju-on, her presence is based on wrath though her focus is geared more at the terrorizing of little children. She has an ability to possess and inhabit the bodies of whom she chooses and replacing them in her form. It is pointed out a few times that she can’t be killed which is a clever move to support sequels. The local park seems to be a frequented place where she claims her victims.
The story starts in the town of Kanagawa of which is the ground zero for this urban legend. School kids talk daily about the slit mouth women while exchanging stories to friends and family. The legend has had quite an impact on the area which from what I could gather influences the extraction from nightmare into reality. Like most Asian figures she was once human and a product of tragedy. In her case she suffered from an ailment which jolted her into spats of insanity and violence. The victims in her case were her own kids who she cared for but also beat daily.
We learn that the slit mouthed women originated from a woman named Taeko Matsuzaki. With 3 children, she abused them daily out of an uncontrollable rage which was brought on by the sickness. After her son’s 2 siblings vanished, she begged him to kill her with a sharp blade. A sudden moment of clarity and compassion demonstrated that Taeko loved her children but had no control. The boy missing her neck cut thru her mouth giving her the appearance she came to be known from today.
The time now is 30 years later as her son Noboru Matsuzaki has partnered with colleague teacher Kyôko Yamash*ta to track down the recent missing children and the reports of the appearance of the slit mouthed woman. Children are kidnapped as Taeeko posses bodies and brings the children into her red roofed hideaway. Locked in the basement they await until she returns to be either harmed or killed.
The film is directed by Kôji Shiraishi and is greatly enhanced by Miki Mizu
no’s jolting performance as the haunting Taeko Matsuzaki. Lead acting roles feature Eriko Satô as Kyôko Yamash*ta, Haruhiko Katô as Noboru Matsuzaki, Chiharu Kawai as Mayumi Sasaki and Rie Kuwana as Mika Sasaki. Behind the scenes DVD extras cover the production and talks a bit about where the legend was influenced by.
The film is quite compelling as an Asian folklore type of creation. One might pull up memories of the boogey man or an evil Tooth fairy in retrospect. Long dead, the slit mouthed women is an abomination that has returned from the grave. While the film actually avoids alot of assumed cliques it manages to hold its own as a new introduction into Asian horror icons. A top contender for becoming a classic, Carved is a story that adds a new mythos into the horror arena. Creepy and smart, Carved is a winner!
The film is now available as part of Tartan’s “Palisades Tartan Terror Pack” per a 3 film DVD set
Carved: The Slit Mouthed Woman (2007)