More from my I Love Splatter! A to Z project — where I watch every single one of my horror dvds in alphabetical order. Today I watched Audition, directed by Takashi Miike which not only sent me down a rabbit hole of Miike films; it also kicked off a huge J-Horror obsession. You can watch me talk about this on video in my Instagram stories & highlights (@ilovesplatter), and also on Facebook stories (@ilovesplattermovies).
Auditon | Ôdishon (1999)
Directed by Takashi Miike
Starring: Ryo Ishibashi as Shigeharu Aoyama, Eihi Shiina as Asami Yamazaki, Tetsu Sawaki as Shigehiko Aoyama, and Jun Kunimura as Yasuhisa Yoshikawa.
IMDb description: A widower takes an offer to screen girls at a special audition, arranged for him by a friend to find him a new wife. The one he fancies is not who she appears to be after all.
WHAT I REMEMBERED:
I will always remember going to rent this from my local video store (On 15th Video, which is sadly no longer with us), because the guy behind the counter tried to talk me out of it, warning me that it was super gory and it made him almost throw up. Pssssh. Did that guy even know who he was talking to? CLEARLY NOT.
Even though I’ve watched this at least five times, it’s been a few years since I’ve digested the whole film. So when I think of Audition, I think of the broad strokes: the ickiness of the guys holding an “audition” to find one of them a new wife — the man-thing in the bag being served her vomit, and of course, PIANO WIRE AND NEEDLES. Just the sound of Asami’s voice saying “deet deet deet” is enough to make me shiver.
NOW THAT I’VE REWATCHED IT:
Goddamn I still love this movie as much as ever. It does take awhile to get to the crazy — which is probably part of why it’s still such a shocking film. So much setup around Aoyama and his loneliness, and Asami and her shy sweetness. Miike doesn’t drop any hints that there is something VERY wrong with her until well into the story.
The fake auditions are actually even grosser than I remembered: at one point while Aoyama is looking through applications, he tells his friend that it’s like “picking out a new car” *barf* and when an older woman comes in to audition, they both give each almost an eye-roll look because clearly she can’t be selected as the perfect mate if she’s not young and beautiful.
All of that makes it real hard to sympathize with Aoyama, even once Asami’s madness is fully revealed. I’m not saying I agree that he should be crippled and forced to live in a bag, I’m just saying — I kind of understand why it’s happening. Asami’s past traumas — all at the hands of men — have shaped who she is, and basically, she’s mad as hell and she’s not gonna take it anymore.
Another thing I was thinking about after I finished this is that Audition is one of the only horror films that specifically deals with male’s fears. There are so many horror films that are centered around women being raped, attacked, and killed by men; this one stands out as something unusual, both in its subject matter and in its female villain. Asami is shy, small, and pretty. Totally unthreatening. She’s wholly unlike someone like Annie Wilkes in Misery (I mean, except for that whole cutting off feet thing) — and she’s not possessed by demons or supernatural in any way.
Also the way she coldly and calmy executes her torture of Asama is UNREAL. The only time we see her break her composure is when she’s actually sawing off his limbs, where you can see she’s deriving real pleasure from it. Miike even does this amazing thing where he films part of that from an outside window, and when she tosses the foot at the window and it left a blood splatter, I applauded.
Oh man, y’all. This movie! It’s something else. I will never, ever get tired of this one.
Special F/X report: Some of the severed body parts look pretty fake-y (mostly because they’re still moving when Aoyama sees them) and the ballet teacher’s weird prosthetics look kind of hokey, but for the most part the practical effects are A++++. Particularly man-thing in a bag and that end torture sequence.
RELATED RECOMMENDED READING: Y’all should check out this piece by Anya Stanely for Dread Central: Gender Bashing: AUDITION’s Asami, 20 Years Later. It’s a fantastic breakdown of why Audition is both misogynistic and feminist, and how Asami is different from other horror villains.