Audition (Ôdishon) (1999)

auditionheaderI don’t know what to say about “Audition”. For a film that’s rapidly become a standard viewing for the horror genre, I’m just dumbfounded. Why hasn’t the mainstream noticed Takashe Miike yet? I mean fully noticed. This man is a genius. He’s not just some director giving us gore, gore for no damn reason (*cough*EliRoth*cough*) but a man who provides the gore as a way of expressing his story. “Audition” is one of those films. It’s a reflection of Miike’s sick mind, a man who twists his audience in so much directions, that you leave feeling violated and stunned. With “Audition” I was offended, I was shocked, and I was stunned.

For a man who’s seen it all, it takes a lot for me to be shocked by a horror film, but Miike pulled it off. If you haven’t seen a film from Takashe Miike, then you’re really missing out on something amazing. Miike’s films are dirty, and perverse, they’re shocking, and ugly. The man knows nothing of the word taboo, and he tackles the audience dead on with his imagery. “Audition” should be standard viewing for perfect examples of Miike, and horror. Aoyama is a lonely man. Lecherous, yes, a bit sleazy sure, but he’s lonely after his wife died from a fatal illness. With his son drifting away in life, he craves the companionship of a woman by his side and is desperate but feels insecure about finding a woman. His friend a studio executive has a plan. He’ll audition different young women for a role in a pretend movie, and Aoyama will romance the one he finds most suitable.

The stand out though is the beautiful Asami, a soft spoken ballet dancer who Aoyama becomes enraptured with. Miike’s “Audition” relies on slow build-up and his opus is an exercise in his twisted practices starting off as a sweet romance and heads in to deranged for the first hour as a simple romance drama. Aoyama breezes through resumes, he bonds with his son, he contemplates his life, and decides he needs companionship. And as the story progresses, the film becomes darker and darker. In spite of Aoyama’s friend almost pleading that he be careful around Asami, Aoyama’s desperation for love keeps him pursuing her. Though Asami is beautiful, the characters as the audience feel uneasy with her. In many sequences she resembles Norman Bates, always expressing a tick and unease about her that keeps the audience one step ahead of Aoyama.

Miike never paints their romance as truly whimsical, and many of their sequences together are often silent uncomfortable experiences that make us aware of what’s ahead. Asami is truly an erratic young girl who has a set of fangs behind her smile. And Takashe Miike succeeds in creating one of the most frightening villains in horror. Asami is a truly horrifying villain mainly because she’s so non-threatening. She speaks in soft whispers all the time, is crafty, and performs her wicked acts with such innocent glee like a child embracing a puppy. With Miike’s merciless peek in to pure madness, he makes a true statement about how that dream girl just doesn’t exist, and Eihi Shiina gives a truly amazing performance stealing the show.

With the excruciating climax, Takashe Miike tests the limits of the audience and I found myself literally squirming in my seat, writhing and covering my eyes. With the final scenes, I found that I was actually offended–but exhilarated at the same time. Takashe Miike’s trademark work is an amazing piece of art, and Miike is a truly gifted director. This is a fantastic film, and Takashe Miike is one sick fuck. If “Ichi The Killer” didn’t confirm that, “Audition” certainly will. With utterly gruesome and disturbing imagery, Miike makes an oh so subtle film about how the perfect girl is just never a reality. “Audition” is a must for any horror fan, and be sure to watch this on an empty stomach. I beg you.