Overlooked Film of the Week- #28
Due to my natural diet of horror films, I find Asian women in white very scary. I favorite place for foreign film is Asia. I know I have glorified Asian cinema before on this blog and surely I will do it again. They push the envelope on every genre, with every picture. All credit that gets heaped upon them is well-deserved. "Audition" is an exercise in style just as much as it is an exercise in horror. It taps into a fear that I believe is very relevant, especially today.
"Audition" is about a seven year widower (Ryo Ishibashi) who is urged by his son (Tetsu Sawaki) to begin dating again. The widower finally gives into his son's demands and has a movie producer (Jun Kunimura) devise a mock audition where the actresses will "audition" to play the widower's wife. The widower is instantly captivated by Asami (Eihi Shiina). The movie producer becomes suspicious of Asami, as none of her resume contacts check out. However, the widower is so enchanted by Asami that they begin to date. The widower begins to suspect that things are not what they seem.
Things aren't what they seem, and when things start to get bad for our poor widower, they get very bad.
"Audition" works as a horror film because it has it all. There are great boo-scares. Take the scene after the auditions, when the producer says they will get back to Asami. We then follow Asami back to her apartment, which is completely empty except for a phone and a sack. The goosebumps settle in as we watch Asami star at her phone for hours, waiting for the call that she got the job. Once her phone finally rings, the sack suddenly moves and we hear a noise from it before the scene cuts away. Freaky. The movie works as blood and guts tale too. The torture scene and the revelation of the sack's contents is harrowing. The final 20 or so minutes of the film is some of the most grisly, bizarre and horrifying imagery I have seen in any horror movie. Director Miike Takashi deserves mad credit for never holding back, never going tongue-in-cheek. The film also works very well as a mystery, as the producer and widower do work to find out more about Asami's past. The mystery kept me enthralled and engaged throughout.
The acting is superb. Eihi Shiina is the real standout, her transition from cute and innocent to cute and deadly is well done. The way she takes childlike glee from ripping limb after limb off someone's body is enough to give you nightmares for weeks. There isn't a lot creepier things compared to somebody dismembering you with big smile on their face. Ryo Ishibashi, Tetsu Sawaki, and Jun Kunimura also all do strong work, and shouldn't be forgotten.
Add in creepy music and "Audition" is a delight. The movie is notorious all around, when it first premiered at American film festivals in 2000, it had its fair share of walkouts. A woman attending a festival went as far to tell Miike Takashi that he was evil. If that isn't incentive enough to check this movie out, I don't know what is.