By: Andrew Ward (Two Beers) –
Going into watching Audition, widely considered to be influential Japanese director Takashi Miike’s best film, I had the expectations to be disgusted and disturbed. I’ve read reviews where viewers have fainted, walked out, or thrown up in the theatre. Needless to say it did not disappoint. Or maybe it did, seeing as how it delivered so well.
So you’re telling me this guy makes disturbing films?
Audition follows the story of Shigeharu Aoyama, a man who lost his wife seven years ago, and their teenage son who he now raises alone. From his son’s urging Shigeharu begins to restart his dating life. He gets the great idea from his friend to set up auditions of young women for a film role that is actually just the role to be his new wife. Aside from this douchebag move Shigeharu is a great guy who deserves a great woman. Unfortunately, he likes candidate Asami right from the beginning. And soon enough her whole past comes out and it isn’t pretty.
Audition combines Hitchcock’s style of making the violence clear as happening without actually showing it with the brutality of showing terrible, over the top violence that would make Hostel seem timid. Unlike the U.S. horror films where gore is present throughout Miike builds up to the violence through in-depth, yet quick flashbacks and dream sequences. If someone were to add up and compare the amount of violence in Audition to the more mainstream U.S. films it has inspired it would come up as a much less violent film. But it isn’t the quantity of violence that makes this film disturbing. It’s the quality.
Remember when this was the most violence horror movies would show? Me neither.
Audition is a great horror film that elaborately details the background of its characters. There are many times where you empathize with every main character at some point leading up to the terrible torture of Act Three. It makes the torture even worse because of this. You don’t want to see Shigeharu getting needles shoved into his eyes for the obvious reason that it should make you want to vomit, but also because you know he doesn’t deserve this. This is a true testament to the quality of acting from the entire cast, something that can’t be said for many U.S. horror films.
What keeps this film from being a solid one beer movie is one of its best parts, the editing. The flashbacks and dream sequences are weaved into the film so well that you sometimes lose track of what is happening. In the end the film does explain what all the cuts add up to while leaving room for the viewer to decide if what they were seeing was merely a dream itself or one terrible case of serendipity. The best way to describe this would be calling it a case of too much good in too short a time. It would be like eating four packs of bacon in one breakfast.
Just like dating Asami, this will also leave you without a foot.
As a horror film, Audition ranks in the upper echelon. Yet, it also ranks in the Requiem for a Dream category of good films where I feel extremely dirty and want to cry in the shower after watching it. I’d recommend it to people with the extreme caution that it isn’t anything like the horror films that are usually seen in the States. It’s disturbing, it’s brutal, and you may need to walk away from the screen from time to time. All of which make it an excellent film that any horror fan needs to see.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: every time there is a flashback.
Take a drink: every time you want to mercy kill a character.
Take a shot: whenever you look away from the screen in disgust.