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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 43.66%
Average: 2.82%
Pretty Bad: 5.63%
Total Crap: 0%

5 reviews, 41 user ratings

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by MP Bartley

"Jesus H.Christ...."
4 stars

...was my response after the credits roll up at the end of 'Audition', a Japanese horror flick from a couple of years ago. And it's not an over the top response. I was literally slack-jawed in disbelief at what I'd seen. I've been scared witless at horror movies before. But this was different. This was like nothing I'd ever seen.

And perhaps the strangest thing about 'Audition' is that the horror comes completely out of left-field. It starts off as a graceful, slow but humourous mediation on love and loss. Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) has been a widoer for seven years when his son suggests that he finds a new wife to stop him looking so old. Although he is intially sceptical he is encouraged by film producer friend Yasuhisa (Jun Kunimura) to go ahead with the idea, and using the pretence of a casting session for a feature film they hold a series of auditions to find Aoyama a new wife.

For Aoyama, Asami (Eihi Shiina) is the standout. Beautiful and elegant, she's an ex-ballet dancer who had to quit through injury. Enraptured with her, he takes her out on a series of dates, despite Yasuhisa's mis-givings. For example, every contact she gives leads to a dead end or a dissapearance. And Asami has some very dark secrets in her past.

As 'Audition' plays out at it's own pace, it's reminiscent of 'Psycho' in that the film seems to be about one thing, but several short, startling bursts remind us that there's something else going on, that we're not quite aware of yet. For the most part 'Audition' is both gently humourous, such as the actual casting sessions, and gently touching as both Aoyama and Asami bring out the different hurts and heartaches they've suffered in life.
These scenes are beautifully set-up and shot and wondefully acted by both Ishibashi and Shiina. Ishibashi giving a very convincing and touching performance of a man trying to move on with life, even though he's not sure he should. And Shiina effortlessly captures the audiences sympathy of someone who's been badly hurt, yet also keeps them on their toes as she always hints at something bubbling beneath the surface.

Yet the performances and set-up can't shake the feeling that things just don't fit right such as Yasuhisa's warnings to Aoyama, and several un-nerving shots of Asami alone, head bowed in total silence, in her apartment waiting patiently by the phone. Apart from a huge sack on the floor...

It's the fact that the romance angle is just a huge distraction to catch the audience off-guard for the horror about to unfurl. Like how 'Psycho' isn't actually about Janet Leigh ripping off her boss, 'Audition' isn't actually about the romance between Aoyama and Asami no matter how well drawn out it is.

It's all a big tease leading up to the hallucinatory climax which could become of the most talked about endings if 'Audition' ever reaches a bigger audience. I'll not spill the details suffice to say it's one of the most stomach-curling acts of revenge I've ever seen commited to celluloid.

It's slow, deliberate and the viewer is spared nothing. Even the sound effects are a hell of a lot more effective than the usual use of gore. And coming out of the placid atmosphere it's previously set gives it an even bigger effect.

The question has to be asked, to what purpose does it serve? I've a pretty strong stomach to gore but even I was sickened. A lot more people would be offended to the point of turning off or leaving. Yes, it's not for the weakhearted, but it's also perhaps not for those wanting a logical, happy ending.

So what is 'Auditon'? Is it a sadistic female revenge fantasy? A bloody, satirical, call to arms for female empowerment? A heavy look into obsession, abuse and physical perfection? Or a sick and nasty joke by the film-makers? I'll leave it to you to decide. With Hollywood remaking 'Ring' it would take a brave, brave film-maker to tackle 'Audition' and give it the same power and ending. Is it worth four stars? Undoubtedly, it's splendidly acted and directed. But is it worth a look? Certainly for the strong stomached and curious, but if I'll ever look again... that's a question I'm just not ready to answer yet.

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originally posted: 11/05/02 02:50:37
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User Comments

5/07/15 stanley welles a meditative, melancholic masterpiece 5 stars
11/13/12 Euan Is it just me or is it funny too? Eihi,s happy mad act after the slow half is just thrillin 4 stars
2/09/12 David Hollingsworth Deeply disturbing, classy, and nauseating 5 stars
12/31/11 xbeatle Hard to follow at some points(dream/not dream) but bottom line, I watched the whole thing.. 4 stars
12/28/10 Moose Rapper Yes Paul; AWESOME in other words! 5 stars
11/13/09 curtis Great movie.Gory but i found myself compulsed to keep watching during the gore scenes. 5 stars
11/10/09 yeah this movie made me think,i DONT NEED to see whats in the bag next time 2 stars
7/10/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Freaky 4 stars
4/23/09 moshka Whoa...not what I expected, but creepingly excellent!! 5 stars
10/06/08 mr.mike Well worth seeing , albeit somewhat disappointing after the build-up. 4 stars
10/03/06 Charles Tatum Cringe inducing and unsettling 4 stars
9/22/06 Pritchett Much more subdued than I thought it would be, but absorbing, with a hell of a payoff... 5 stars
8/28/06 anthonyuk superb and disturbing 5 stars
8/10/06 melivorous Takashi Miike at his finest! 5 stars
5/09/06 Christine Hosie really liked this one,just when you think it's a straight up guy meets girl love story..... 5 stars
10/28/05 Indrid Cold A few brilliant scenes = good but not great horror. In fact, that's how most "J-horror" is. 4 stars
10/26/05 Crumbcake It's not a gore film, retards...go back to the Guinea Pig series. 5 stars
10/24/05 Suk-R-Punch It's worth the wait through all the more emotional amazing film. 5 stars
10/15/05 OodlesofOs Dreamlike, surreal, creepy, nauseating, involving, eerie, masterful, brilliant! 5 stars
10/13/05 Agent Sands Actually, it really isn't that scary. It's got some creatively gory scenes near the end. 3 stars
6/15/05 R i HATE it when that happens.. 5 stars
5/30/05 Anna Ayala Asami's onomatopoeia is more disturbing than Lecter's lip-smacking 4 stars
5/12/05 Beardog8 Creepy atmosphere created by Miike stays with you for weeks. 4 stars
4/15/05 gunther duschtinglhoffa this movie blew my the bad way 2 stars
12/04/04 K. Sear Quite possibly the most terrifying film I have ever seen. 4 stars
11/15/04 Kyle "the Crack" Jobin Brilliant ending that stays with you long after you've watched it. 5 stars
11/09/04 Alaric L The craziest ending i've ever seen!!! 4 stars
7/12/04 Baz Not good for Gore fans, very boring first 2hours with 1 good scene, much better gore films. 2 stars
3/28/04 Steve A. Excellent. After this ride, you won't look at Asian women the same way. 5 stars
3/26/04 Alfred Guy Great and also hard to watch at times. Deeper, deeper, deeper. 5 stars
3/07/04 C. Hernandez Great!Takes it's time fleshing out main characters before the horror smacks you in the face 5 stars
11/06/03 Me OMFG *Faints* 5 stars
7/11/03 Kyle *snore* 3 stars
4/14/03 john it's a shame more people don't know about this wonderfully creepy film. 5 stars
4/07/03 Chris Fox Excellent film - made me sit up and notice Japanese cinema 5 stars
12/11/02 Acid Rain builds tension slowly but surely 4 stars
9/14/02 Tooltime Taylor Wickedly delicious and very disturbing!! 4 stars
8/14/02 The Bomb 69 just like my dates on Friday night!!! 5 stars
6/24/02 spyguy2 A nice ride as the film as develops but the violent ending is ultimately unsatisfying.a 4 stars
10/06/01 Will Parsons Brilliant insight into human loneliness and a misplaced trust in aesthetics 5 stars
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  02-Apr-1999 (NR)
  DVD: 23-Aug-2005



Directed by
  Takashi Miike

Written by
  Ryu Murakami

  Ryo Ishibashi
  Eihi Shiina
  Tetsu Sawaki
  Jun Kunimura
  Renji Ishibashi
  Miyuki Matsuda

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