A widower holds a fake audition to find a new girlfriend, and the
one he falls in love with turns out to be a psychotic serial torturer.
Directed by Takashi Miike
Written by Daisuke Tengan
Starring Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki, Jun Kunimura, Miyuki Matsuda, Renji Ishibashi, Toshie Negishi
Based on the novel by Ryû Murakami
For as long as I can remember, Audition has been the boogeyman of film for me. I saw a clip as a child from Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments countdown, and it scarred me. I vowed never to watch the movie because I knew it would be so disturbing that I couldn't handle it. Flash forward to 2020, where I'm in the midst of producing a horror film podcast, and it finally comes time to watch this specter of a movie that's been haunting me for almost 15 years. Well, I watched it, and I can't remember the last time I was so disappointed. Sure, Audition is a good movie, but it is far less disturbing than I was led to believe. Eli Roth's The Green Inferno fucked with my head more than this Japanese classic. I guess that's a good thing in a way, because now I've at least put it behind me, and I can talk about it like any other movie.
Widower and film producer Shigeharu Aoyama (Ishibashi) holds a fake audition for a fake movie in order to screen potential girlfriends. It's a pretty messed up way to meet women, and I'm fairly certain it's illegal, but I digress. He meets a charming young woman named Asami (Shiina), and the two quickly form a relationship. That's most of the movie. Just watching the two of them date. There is one chilling scene where Asami is sitting by the phone for days, waiting for it to ring, and a large bag in the background just starts to move aggressively. That scene raises a lot of questions; questions that are answered in the last fifteen minutes of the movie. These are the fifteen minutes that make this film worth talking about, and honestly, it's not that crazy compared to some of the shit that's been made in the last ten years alone.
What makes this film so memorable is that it was one of the first to really capitalize on a grisly, drawn-out torture scene, and also the fact that the torturer was a woman. Asami is a psycho and a memorable horror villain, or maybe she isn't. Honestly, the film is open to interpretation regarding Asami's motives, Aoyama's true intentions, or even if the torture is happening at all. It may be a hallucination. Decide for yourself. But if you're like me, and you've been putting this one off because you're scared of what it'll do to your psyche, worry no longer. The Saw franchise is way worse. But Audition is still an enjoyable movie with a masterfully done slow burn that will forever stand as Takashi Miike's masterpiece.