It should just about go without saying that “Audition” is basically Takashe Miike’s masterpiece. If not then it’s the most accessible in where Miike is able to basically cut loose in a horror movie that begins as a romance about a man finding love again that descends in to darkness and torture. Twenty years later, “Audition” is a masterpiece of the genre, of film, and hasn’t aged a single bit since its release in 1999. It embraces romance, drama, a hint of dark comedy, and builds up to a fever pitch of a climax that’s both horrifying and will leave audiences feeling physically pained.
Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is a widower who, with the encouragement of his son, decides to start dating again. Aided by a film-producer friend (Jun Kunimura), Aoyama staged mock auditions for a fake production to function as a dating service for a potential bride. When Aoyama becomes intrigued by the withdrawn, gorgeous Asami (Eihi Shiina), they begin a tumultuous relationship. However, he begins to realize that Asami isn’t as reserved as she appears to be. When he begins investigating where she’s from, and where she lives, he discovers a horrific secret life where the woman proves to be anything but a meek mate.
“Audition” is a movie that is never afraid to really dip its toes in to the darkness and insanity of villain Asami, reveling in depicting her as someone who seems very ideal as a mate and wife when we first meet her. Miike is not at all hesitant in depicting something of a great romance between Aoyama and Asami, which begins on a note that you’d expect from a typical Hollywood tale. Even though the set up is based around deception, the whole frame of the romance is still kind of endearing in the way. Before the age of the internet and cat fishing, Takashe Miike’s tale is so ahead of its time and a prophetic word of warning about how to be wary about the people we meet at random, and how we never really know the people in our lives.
Eihi Shiina as Asami is such a beautiful and soft spoken young girl who seems like the perfect fit for just about any man, but she becomes a monster in such a gradual turn of events that we almost never notice when Miike completely shifts the film’s tone on the audience. Once the movie hits the horror portion in the second chapter, “Audition” is nightmarish, and a tale that also embraces the bizarre with so many moments that seem straight out of some kind of fever dream. Miike paints both portions of the narrative in different colors, and jolts the audience with banner moments in horror cinema. Along with the jolt in Asami’s house, there’s also the infamous albeit memorable climax where we view the full brunt of her lunacy and inherent sadism.
“Audition” is a horror masterpiece, and if you’ve yet to see it, it warrants a viewing. If you’ve seen it before, it deserves a few more viewings, if only because it’s only appreciated in quality.
For collector’s the physical supplements include a booklet filled with stills and essays, and a cover for the release that can be reversed. Of course, there is a DVD version packed with the Blu-Ray. Arrow Video follows up their edition of “Audition” from the 2009 version from Shout Factory, offering up a slew of extras and supplements for fans. Some of the extras are from the 2009 version, but in high definition. There is a pair of audio commentaries, one with director Takashi Miike and Daisuke Tengan, and another commentary with Tom Mes who dissects the film and analyzes a lot of Miike’s direction and creative choices with informative discussion.
There are a slew of exhaustive and informative interviews with Takashi Miike (“Ties That Bind”) clocking in at thirty minutes, Ryo Ishibashi (“Tokyo – Hollywood”) clocking in at sixteen minutes, Eihi Shiina (“From Audition to Vampire Girl”) clocking in at twenty minutes, Renji Ishibashi (“Miike’s Toy”) at twenty minutes, and Ren Osugi (“The Man in the Bag Speaks”) clocking in at sixteen minutes. “Damaged Romance: An Appreciation by Tony Rayns” is a thirty five minute segment with Tony Rayns who discusses a plethora of issues involving the film and Miike’s career as a whole. There is a pair of trailers, a Japanese Trailer and an International Trailer. Both come with Spoiler Warnings, but the international version is the choice that is relatively spoiler free. Finally, there’s a stills gallery, and a minute long Introduction by Takashi Miike himself.