STUDIO: Tartan
MSRP: $19.95
RUNNING TIME: 90 Minutes
• Trailer
• TV Spots
• Behind the Scenes
• Cast Interviews

Note: All screencaps have been crafted to best approximate the experience of viewing the film. Accordingly, there are no entertaining captions.

The Pitch

A chick with a gash for a mouth (slang) isn’t scary enough; how about if she hates children, scorns the laws of physics and gives people with colds a bad name?

The Humans

The lassie who played Cutie Honey; the guy who was in Kairo; a girl who’s in a movie I now really want to see called The Insects Unlisted In The Encyclopedia; two knives, several pair of scissors. (Not humans.)

The Nutshell

A Japanese town is terrified by the reappearance of The Slit-Mouthed Woman, a vengeful spirit in long coat and surgical mask who carries improbably long shears and abducts children. She kidnaps kids seemingly at random, killing some and not others, though all her actions are somehow tied to a pair of schoolteachers, each of whom has a history of abuse.

The Lowdown

There are films so bland and lifeless that it’s difficult to find anything at all to say about them. Even with a few views of a woman’s mouth gaping great-white wide thanks to knife-slit cheeks, this is one of them.

Supposedly based on a Japanese urban legend, Carved has no more coherency or sense than most other j-horror. It fronts as a realistic horror film about the abduction and abuse of children, and the cycle of violence that endures from one abused generation to another. The rate of failure with respect to attempts made at getting those points across is so high the Xbox 360 look like a reliable piece of hardware.

An earthquake unearths the spirit of the Slit-Mouthed Woman, who for the rest of the movie will appear ‘unexpectedly’ behind kids, brandishing those long scissors and glaring from behind a surgical mask. I mean ‘unexpectedly’ in the same way that you’d get shot down by offering a girl your business card at a bar instead of just asking her out, or that you’d fart after eating a burrito. That is, not at all. This chick appears like clockwork every time you figure it’s about time, which is not scary in any fashion.

Sometimes she just shows up out of nowhere; other times she possesses the bodies of woman who have children, with the odds shooting up stratospherically if those women also have a cold. Is the point supposed to be that mothers contain some latent violence towards their children? Based on the number of women in the film that beat their kids for no apparent reason (three) I can’t come to any other conclusion.

The acting is occasionally above par, but everything about the way the film is constructed — again, think ‘realism’ — is counter to drama and horror, making the experience as chilling as a 60 Minutes expose on the percentage of warped 2x4s in the lumber piles at Home Depot.

Considering the premise of the film — slit mouth, scissors — you’d expect or hope for some gore, but again you’re hamstrung by the whole realism tack, which means almost all the nasty shit takes place off-screen, where the budget for your imagination is unbounded. There’s even a double-tendon cutting scene, but you see squat. Which, by the way, the victim can no longer do. And the bits of gore that do hit the lens are either tame makeup or CGI. Nothing to see here. Move along.

The Presentation

Murky murk, murk. Think video. This movie looks like it was shot on video, transferred on video and delivered to my monitor on video. At Carved‘s craft service table, sushi rolls were made with ¾-inch video tape instead of nori. This is the only DVD I own that has to be rewound.

The behind the scenes features are just fine, assuming you care about the movie enough to watch them. Everyone sure seems to be having a great time on set. At least someone had a good time with this one.

3 out of 10