Audition (DVD)

Director - Takashi Miike

Cast - Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina

Country of Origin - Japan

Discs - 2

MSRP - $24.99

Distributor - Shout Factory!

Reviewer - Ryan Miller

Audition DVD Review

B

Audition is a very successful movie.

A few days ago, I was given the chance to witness this decade-old film, that by all rights, I should have seen years prior. In all reality, I'd actually had several chances to view it many times throughout the years, but turned it down for something likely less challenging, or even less stressful. Takashi Miike has painted so vivid a picture, I thought my heart would stop with every horrifying brush stroke. Since I was completely aware of Miike's reputation, I went into this film expecting some pretty disturbing content.

The new release of Audition is two discs and features a menacing, creepy girl on the cover. Though I haven't gotten a chance quite yet to listen to the commentary track, I couldn't skip right into the meat and potatoes without watching his, and Eihi Shiina's, nervous little speeches before the feature. Miike's speech, though short, is incredibly powerful. I'll paraphrase:

"If you're male, put yourself in his shoes. If your female, put yourself in hers."

The essential problem with modern horror is that there is no real danger we haven't faced, no monster that hasn't swallowed us whole, and no cult leader that hasn't used our innards for sex. Modern horror has become less about fear, and more about exploiting high blood pressure. Nothing scares us any longer, and even the Saw films have become a joke, or rather more of one. The new trend seems to be torture porn, and I really can't get behind that. We're not looking to be scared any longer. We're not putting ourselves in the protagonists, or fuck it, even the antagonist's shoes. All we want is to see obscure and terrible ways to die.

Or at least that's what the trend in movies is showing.

Audition however is not a film where I expect to see a piano crush somebody, a reverse bear trap, or a sun-roof decapitation. All of that is much too silly.

We instead get a story that practically mimics Sleepless in Seattle, initially. Having had prior knowledge of certain key plotpoints in the movie did nothing to relieve the forthcoming onslaught of dread and anxiety. I knew it was coming, but when? Furthermore, what was coming? As the plot built further, the tension became a consistency perfect for toast. And I do like toast.

It's these things that horror thrives on. Shocking and terrifying are not the same thing, so it baffles me that people are still trying to associate the two as synonymous.

After the introduction, Audition opens with a gut punch: surprise! Your wife is dead. Upon that terrible revelation, a pit in my stomach opened and my heart fell into it's abyss. It felt awful witnessing that kind of stress and loss, even if they're complete strangers. However, since I was obliging Mr. Miike's suggestion for my viewing, this pain and loneliness was transferable; I put myself in his shoes. At that point, they were pretty big shoes.

Seven years later, Aoyama and I haven't gotten over our wife's early death. We are financially successful, but lack companionship. Our son has grown into a fine teenager with many girlfriends. While we would never admit to being lonely, our friends and associates can easily see it in our tired eyes. The two of us are aging nicely, but soon enough we'll be completely inaccessible to the opposite sex.

So our friend comes up with this great idea to hold an audition for our future wife. Well...we don't go along with it at first, but it's because we want everyone to think we're self-sufficient adults, which we clearly are. The audition goes swimmingly and we meet a lovely lady.

An hour later, or several weeks, shit goes south.

I am incredibly pleased with this movie. As it led up to the climax finale, I almost thought I might vomit. The infinite pit in my stomach filled with more bile than I even knew I had. This movie is very successful, and the first time I've felt fear from a movie in a long time. This movie won't prevent me from dating, or even from holding auditions for various ladies, but it made me realize the importance of doing my research.

This movie is a highly recommended solid 5. Solid.

-Ryan Miller!