Audition (Ôdishon) (1999)

She always gets her part.
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Audition - She always gets her part

Takashi Miike's Audition has to be one of my all time favorite Asian horror movies, there are probably a number of reasons for this. On my first viewing I was shocked more than I had ever been before by a movie, Audition gave me my first taste of the extremities to which a Japanese horror movie could go (having only seen Ringu and Dark Water previously), I have been shocked since by movies such as Guinea Pig 2 and Dumplings, but I would probably never stumbled upon such movies if Audition hadn't sparked my interest. This is also the first movie that introduced me to the work of Takashi Miike.

Seven years after the untimely death of his first wife, Aoyama decides that it is time for him to look for another wife to fill the void in his life. He and a business partner, Yasuhisa, come up with a cunning plan to find the perfect wife and set up an audition looking for talented young ladies to play the lead role in a project, knowing that the project will probably not get the finance to go ahead. Aoyama begins to narrow down the applicants hoping to find the perfect wife among them. As soon as Aoyama sees the picture of Asami Yamazaki he has practically decided who is going to get the part... of his wife to be.

Soon after the audition, Aoyama contacts Asami and they go out on a date. Asami is a shy girl with a troubled past, her delicacy charms Aoyama and he falls deeply in love.

At this point in the movie Miike introduces a very subtle insight into the more sinister side of Asami Yamazaki as she waits by the phone in her unsightly apartment for Aoyama's to call. He does call and after a few more dates Aoyama knows he wants to marry this girl. He takes her away for a weekend so he can propose in style and this is when the movie takes a dark turn true Takashi Miike style.

Asami disappears from the hotel and ceases to answer any calls. Madly in love, Aoyama decides to track her down and, using the few leads he has, opens up a disturbing and dark side to Asami's past.

I would hate to spoil the movie for anyone that has not seen it so I'll leave the storyline there, but I will say that what follows is are intense and graphic imagery of sadistic torture, dismemberment, body parts and twisted characters.

Audition is very slow to get started and for over an hour it is just a love story, this has the effect of lulling you into a false sense of security without which the ending would not have the severe impact that it does. The dreamlike section at the point when the movie takes its terrifying twist overloads you with information that has been missed by Aoyama as he realises that he has not truly listened to Asami's words and what she has said would have been ringing alarm bells had he not been so blindly (deafly?) in love. Whilst this is still sinking in the horror begins and Asami's unstable personality reveals itself.

This movie is truly a work of art, as are most movies by Takashi Miike. I would recommend this movie to anyone, as this took horror movies to a whole new level when I first watched it.
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Categories: Asian Horror Movies
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