6 September 2019 | jfrentzen-942-204211
The Message is Parents Watch Your Kids, or else They Can Get into Big Trouble
This ultra-low budget version of the slit-mouthed woman fable offers some low-grade suspense but is subpar compared with other movies based on the same Japanese folk legend about Kuchisake-onna, a woman that was mutilated in life, with her mouth being cut open from ear to ear, who lives on as a demon, or yokai monster. In some versions of the legend, Kuchisake-onna had been punished for infidelity, and in others her mouth was mutilated during a medical procedure, or she was mutilated by a jealous woman because she was so beautiful. This movie version, indifferently directed by Tôru Kikkawa, was made around the same time as more well-known films based on the tale, Kuchisake-onna (2007) and Kuchisake-onna 0: Biginingu (2008), released the same year. Unlike these more elaborate productions, Kikkawa's version strips the plot to rudimentary urban legend components, focusing on two teenagers that investigate a series of knife murders and how the killings are related to a one-hit wonder singing idol that has mysteriously disappeared. The movie is successful as a warning to parents to keep an eye on their children, or else as with these teens they could naively get into big trouble.
In a small-scale movie like this, it is not difficult to guess the story-line ahead of time. The last 15 minutes are moderately suspenseful but for such a brief running time (around 60 minutes) it takes too long to get to that point. The acting is decent, notably Ayumi Onodera as the titular character whose petulant, self-obsessed idol character gets a grotesque comeuppance. Technical credits are fair, presenting suitably washed out visual style that adds a bit of grunge to the proceedings.