Saturday, August 12, 2017

Slit Mouth Woman in L.A. Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Unsuspecting victims in the USA fall prey to some of Japan's most famous urban legends.

Review: Up front, do not be misled by that title. This film is more akin to an anthology, and the slit mouth woman serves as only a segment/wraparound. As with similar instances in the past, I was intrigued by an East meets West production and this held much potential. Unfortunately, this film is ridiculously low-budget, full of idiocy, and a total waste of that aforementioned potential. Yet, at the same time, I can appreciate what the filmmakers were striving for and the core premise is creative. Furthermore, the filmmakers were having fun with the material, and I can't completely fault them when they understood this was never going to be a mainstream hit.

Slit Mouth Woman (Kuchisake-onna): So the slit mouth woman is supposed to be some kind of disfigured woman, or supernatural entity, that will ask you if she's beautiful. Depending on your answer, she will use her huge shears to slice your face up like hers. There have been many movies about her, though, I've yet to review one. In this instance, some blonde girl believes she is transforming into the titular character. Though the production is home video levels, I kind of enjoyed the premise at hand, and the makeup effects were passable. Between each of the other segments, we cut back and forth to this story with blondie here becoming increasingly disturbed. By the end, she does become the slit mouth woman, however, I did not understand how any of this was happening whatsoever. Blondie's sister was using the power of suggestion or something...? I don't know. I mean, the sister is studying Japanese urban legends, kills blondie, carves up blondie's body and dresses her to look like the slit mouth woman, and then blondie's ghosts actually comes back as the slit mouth woman....I guess. There is a third sister, who we will get to later, but I'm not sure how that was supposed to all connect. Nevertheless, this was okay for what it's worth, but, goddamn, I was about to turn into the slit mouth man if I had to hear blondie scream "MONICA!" one more time!

Kokkuri-san: More or less, Kokkuri-san is supposed to be the ghostly force within a Japanese equivalent of the ouija board. A bunch of movies have this in it--sometimes just for the shits and giggles. Plus, other Asian countries have their own equivalent. Well, Kokkuri-san contributes next to nothing in the plot as it's pretty much a lesbian love triangle with a couple dweeby guys dragged along to raise the body count. We have three chicks working in a maid cafe--mmhmm...maid cafe. Seriously, do those exist in the USA and where do I find one?! Anyway, the three girls are in love with one another or something, but someone starts to kill them off. The editing is already pretty much shit throughout the entirety of the film, however, it's especially bad in this segment. You will think there is an unknown party as the killer never explained, but this is simply due to horrendous editing accompanied by confusing storytelling. In essence, one of the girls is jealous that the other two are dating, kills one of them, and then that first victim returns as some kind of onryo/zombie hybrid. After killing a bunch of people, the ghost is defeated by the last maid pretending to not be a lesbian any longer. Right. The girls are cute, but this segment was especially stupid since it had almost nothing to do with the urban legend. Also, I don't fully understand how the slit mouth woman connected into this tale as they implied.

Furen the Evil Hunter: I tried to look this up since the only urban legends I know about are ones featured in movies. From what I can tell, there doesn't really appear to be any urban legend associated with this entry. If anybody knows, share it with me. What we do get is a spiritualist coming to the USA to supposedly deal with these Japanese, supernatural forces; somehow this involves the devil, an evil priest, and zombies. I guess the filmmakers wanted to indulge the action genre with some DBZ-esque shenanigans and the spiritualist, revealing his name to be Onmyoji, blasts the devil back to hell with a wannabe kamehameha wave. Why not, right? Would have been funnier if they had this guy fighting the slit mouth woman. Despite the overwhelming levels of cheese, I thought this segment was amusing due to the fish out of water setup.

Umeko's Friends: With the final segment, I don't really understand what was supposed to be going on. I guess Umeko is supposed to be a Sadako wannabe? Hell, was that even a Japanese girl under that wig and makeup? Regardless, the plot reminded me of the "Hagane" segment in "Kowai Onna." Some guy helps a Japanese man stranded on the road. With promises of good food and a cute sister, the guys decides to go home with the Japanese man. There, the food is rice with locusts, and the sister, Umeko, acts creepy with giant, disheveled hair. Immediately, the sister loves the guy and tries to bang him but is rejected. Later on, the guy is with his girlfriend when Umeko and her brother try to start trouble. This results in the brother using a kind of voodoo doll to hurt the main guy. Out of nowhere, the one lesbian from the maid cafe brings Onmyoji over to help fight the spell. During this spiritual battle, Umeko's brother dies and Umeko wants revenge, somehow transforming into her own Sadako/slit mouth woman hybrid. In this form, Umeko manages to kill the main guy and his girlfriend and then hangs out with their dead bodies. Finally, it's worth explaining that Umeko is supposed to be the third sister to blondie who became the slit mouth woman. Could have definitely put more effort into linking all the segments, that's for sure.

Overall, I see this film as a missed opportunity. The idea of Japanese urban legends somehow spreading to the USA was awesome, but the phenomenon is not properly explained in the story. I mean, why was any of this happening in the first place? They build up this mystery throughout yet do not deliver. Two of the best Japanese urban legends, teke teke and Hanako, should have been included in place of the spiritualist and Umeko. There needed to be a bigger budget for the production, and the red screen edits were atrocious. Just fucking transition your shots! I am going a bit easy with my rating since I appreciate the effort put forth and ideas at hand; I'll cut the filmmakers slack for their ambitious approach as well. I can't recommend this, but, then again, I watched this on Amazon Prime so if you want to kill some time on a plane ride, or whatever, there's that.

Notable Moment: When Onmyoji even makes a joke about how all they need is Sadako to complete this cast of zany creatures he's fighting. What's kind of funny is that a lot of Asians will reference Sadako as the archetype of long-haired ghosts, yet non-Asians I hear say, "she looks like 'The Grudge'."

Final Rating: 5/10

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