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The film is based on a Japanese legend in which a samurai's wife was caught cheating on him, and he slit her mouth open. The same woman roams foggy streets, with a surgical mask on, and asks people she encounters, "Am I beautiful?". If they say, "Yes" she removes her mask and says, "Even like this?", and then slits their mouth. If they say "No" she cuts them in half. If they say "Average", she will allow them to escape. See more »
[All goofs for this title are spoilers.]
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A Typical Asian Horror Film, Slightly Better Than Average
Children tell the story of the slit-mouthed woman, a killer with a deformed face, surgical mask and very long scissors ready to slice up the kids while asking "Am I pretty?". As rumors of the woman spread, the panic in town grows and the rumors become true -- remarkably so, as they seem to come from nowhere. What is the origin of this killer?
Something about Asian horror is both appealing and distressing. I can't pinpoint it. The films are different enough from American films to give a special feel to the viewer for when we've had enough of the classic slasher. Yet, no matter how different one Asian film is from another, they seem to all co-exist in the same universe. This film is no exception: while not relying on the same techniques as "Pulse" or "The Grudge" or even "The Ring", there's a sense that we haven't left those worlds too far behind.
Like many Asian horror films, there is a sense of the supernatural here. American horror often tries to explain its stories in a reasonable way (even when the villains are of an other-worldly nature). Asian horror is less likely to do so. Here is another example of that. As the film progresses, we learn more about the slit-mouthed woman, but we never really understand how or why she does what she does.
I enjoyed the rumors element. I think this was very clever and if the film were longer, I wish they'd have gone into this more and made the plot and background deeper. At one point, a child is asked where the slit-mouthed woman lives and she responds in a house with a red roof on the hill. Despite having no reason to know this (she never saw the house or even the woman), the rumor invariably turn out to be true. I found this very interesting.
I also liked the makeup. Having recently seen "Pan's Labyrinth" I saw how cool it was to have a person with a mouth slit open to their ear (and, by the way, if you haven't seen this film you really must). This film makes it the selling point of the movie, not just a brief scene -- the way the woman is shown with the mouth and dead eyes is pretty cool. I didn't find her particularly scary or creepy, but an interesting villain just the same.
Perhaps some of the film is lost in translation. A key aspect of the film is that the kids think the woman says "Am I pretty?" and later we are told she says "Aim my neck." I am under the impression that whatever the original wording was, these two phrases are even more similar to create a parallel. Here, the words "pretty" and "neck" are a bit of a stretch. But it slid.
If you like Asian horror, I suggest checking this one out. The copy I watched was pre-release, so the picture wasn't fully touched up and there were numbers counting across the top. Once the official DVD is out, I suspect this will be a bit crisper and the sounds even creepier (maybe like the comb noise from "The Grudge"). Either way, I liked it, and it was a good vacation from the same old teenagers in the woods movie.
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