This is by far the most difficult film I’ll likely have to cover during this marathon. Not in regards to overall quality. That’s a different story. Mainly because Audition is one of those experiences that’s hard to recommend to certain branches of people and to explain why is extremely complicated as it would require me to spoil the plot, and that’s the last thing I would ever do to my audience.
At least, not in this review. Do expect a follow-up post on what makes this film so special and almost sick-inducing to sit through at some point. It really deserves it.
As indicated by its placement, this is indeed a horror film. And out of everything I’ve seen, this is the most bone-chilling of the roster. We’re talking about the type of horror that gets you to start slowly leaning back in you’re chair before it gets to the point where you want to leap off for your safety. These sequences are so visceral and unrelenting that it makes future attempts in emulating that sort of feel such as the Saw franchise almost look like child’s play.
But what lends Audition to having such an incredible impact is through its very human story. The film centers on a widower (Ryo Ishibashi) who is still left numb and empty after the death of his wife. When his son suggests finding a new wife, he sets up a mock audition to meet a protentional partner. Of which he comes across one beautiful woman that catches his eye.
This creates a sympathetic character whose motivations are understandable. He’s a good man whose still struggling to move from such an awful point in his life. But when the chance seems to arrive finally, there’s such this energy and almost child-like innocence that makes him such an endearing figure. I also really enjoyed his relationship that he has with his son. Despite his wife’s passing, he still clearly doesn’t let the event stop him from trying to be a good father, and the sweet little scenes they share makes me feel cozy inside.
It can’t be overlooked, however, on the tremendous contributions that fashion model/actress Eihi Shiina brings to Audition. As the film’s love interest, there’s this sweet but notably sad element to the character. From exploring her backstory is when the film takes a sinister but tragic turn as she ultimately just wants to know how what’s it likes to connect with another human that feels meaningful.
Audition is really about the importance and loss of the human connection. The feeling of truly loving someone for who there are. Flaws and all that included. There’s such an optimistic tone that it wouldn’t be out of place in a classic drama/romance film. Of course, we know what type of genre Audition falls under. And in that case, people might be a little bit flawed to make any relationship work.
From the first few minutes, I was blown away by director Takashi Miike’s precision. The whole film looks stunning, and there are so many great angles used in service of the narrative. Like how the camera is positioned from behind a character washing dishes, you can still get inside their head and understand what’s going on underneath the surface. Sometimes he’s fine with just letting certain shots linger onscreen without feeling too drawn out.
The film even dives into the surreal territory through the use of dream sequences. These don’t feel like an excuse to add a cheap scare, but rather a narrative vehicle that allows the viewer to understand the character’s unfiltered point of view that becomes edited and paced as if everything will be hit by a speeding train.