Takashi NishinaSenritsu Kaiki File KowasugiShigeo OsakoChika Kuboyama
Senritsu Kaiki File Kowasugi File 01: Operation Capture the Slit-Mouthed Woman
Medium: film
Year: 2012
Writer/director: Koji Shiraishi
Actor: Shigeo Osako, Chika Kuboyama, Koji Shiraishi, Takashi Nishina
Keywords: Senritsu Kaiki File Kowasugi, Slit Mouthed Woman, horror, cinema verite
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 70 minutes
Url: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6765662/
Website category: J-horror
Review date: 1 July 2024
Senritsu File Kowasugi 1
Not sure about this one. Eventually, it becomes quite an effective slow-burning horror, but it's also drab and (for a long time) boring. Furthermore, the main character is bullying, violent and almost certainly an ex-career criminal. I disliked him when he was behaving like a gangster and threatening a homeless man, but then later we'll realise that that's simply the kind of person he is. His idea of a "hello" is to knock you down with his car (if you're scary enough), then he'll grab a baseball bat and jump out to continue the interview.
This is also the first of Koji Shiraishi's well-regarded "Kowasugi!" series of horror pseudo-documentaries:
Senritsu Kaiki File Kowasugi File 01: Operation Capture the Slit-Mouthed Woman (2012)
Senritsu Kaiki File Kowasugi File 02: Shivering Ghost (2012)
Senritsu Kaiki File Kowasugi File 03: Legend of a Human-Eating Kappa (2013)
Senritsu Kaiki File Kowasugi File 04: The Truth! Hanako-san in the toilet (2013)
Senritsu Kaiki File Kowasugi! Preface: True Story of the Ghost of Yotsuya (2014)
Senritsu Kaiki File Kowasugi: The Most Terrifying Movie in History (2014)
Senritsu Kaiki File Kowasugi: Final Chapter (2015)
Senritsu Kaiki File Super Kowa Too! Fear Adventure: Kokkuri-san (2015)
Senritsu Kaiki File Super Kowa Too! Dark Mystery: Snake Woman (2015)
Senritsu Kaiki World Kowasugi! (2023)
...although I think Namade Kowasugi! (2015) is a real documentary, not a fake one, and so doesn't belong in this list. I've actually seen some of Koji Shiraishi's horror films before. He's got a pretty respectable filmography, often but not always pseudo-documentaries. Anyway, having watched the first of these, should I continue with the others? I'm watching lots of Japanese urban legend horror movies right now, so I'm tempted. Especially by the Hanako one.
Our heroes are a TV crew and the cameraman's played by Shiraishi himself. The director, Kudo (played by Osako Shigeo) is willing to believe in urban legends and can become scary and thuggish in his pursuit of them. He's also, though, the film's Mulder figure. Here he thinks they've found Kuchisake-onna and wants to capture her on video, which you wouldn't catch me doing. His assistant director, Ichikawa (played by Kuboyama Chika) is normal, sensible and acts as his Scully, but she can't stop him when he goes too far.
Frankly, a good half of this film is dull. It's full of mundane legwork. Kudo and Ichikawa interview people (and sometimes upset them), talk to strangers who don't know much and do experiments to measure Kuchisake-onna's running speed. That said, though, the pseudo-documentary tone is convincing and makes it more startling when, eventually, the camera glimpses Kuchisake-onna. Kudo will talk people into doing things and having conversations that looked suicidal to me. Not everyone survives to the end credits. It can definitely be unnerving.
The characters make questionable choices. Two blokes secretly filmed a woman, got chased by her and then sent the footage to a video producer (Kudo). Are they surprised she got upset? I was also unconvinced by Kudo's assumption that this woman had to be the Kuchisake-onna. Scary? Yes. Dangerous? It would seem so. She doesn't say or do anything you'd associate with Kuchisake-onna, though, instead often doing things that would suggest someone else. She can run impossibly fast, which isn't really part of the lore. She's involved in creepy witchcraft. She never asks if she's beautiful. She looks convincing and that's about it.
I'll watch the next film, but I haven't committed to the series yet. The formula seems solid. I wouldn't go near a real Kudo if I could possibly help it, but he's a strong, dynamic and unsettling protagonist for a horror series. Ichikawa softens his hard edges. Now I know what to expect, I'm hoping to enjoy the next film more.