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VINE VOICEon 9 September 2002
If you read all the blurb written about this film, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a Japanese ultra-violent "Fatal Attraction" clone. After all the plot is deceptively simple - middle-aged widower looks for new love, holds fake audition, meets girl, girl becomes mysterious, girl gets nasty...
However, "Audition" is a dark masterpiece, drifting effortlessly from romantic melodrama into dizzying dreamscapes and finally skin-crawling horror. What's more, the viewer is left with nothing but sympathy for both the menacing Asami and her hapless suitor.
Okay, the violence. Well, while the last hour or so does become gruelling, a lot of it is actually suggested rather than shown explicitly. What's more there are no sudden shocks and brutal slayings, as in most American horror films. Instead, the viewer is forced to watch, as helpless as Asami's victim, as she explains the result of a childhood of abuse. "Words can create lies," she says. "Only pain can be trusted".
The same is true of the film's depiction of sex. Asami undresses, but refreshingly we see little nudity - maintaining the feeling of shy innocence that surrounds her. Nothing in this astonishing movie has been designed to tittilate. The performances are all top-notch, especially the two leads. The film's protagonist is seen looking for an "obedient" wife, but ultimately he is a lonely man looking for affection, not a sexist brute. And as for Asami herself... well, when her murderous nature is revealed she thankfully does not turn into a hammy, eye-rolling maniac. Rather, she is controlled, almost as demure as before, carefully explaining her plans in her childlike, sing-song voice. As she murmurs "Kiri kiri kiri" (Japanese for "Deeper, deeper..."), it's enough to freeze the blood.
Ultimately, there is no denying that "Audition" is a harrowing descent into real darkness, but if you think you can make the journey it is a stunning and highly rewarding film. Rather than revulsion I was left feeling pity for the main characters. And having seen it several times I find parts of the dream sequences far more disturbing than the much-discussed climax (especially the scene with the sack... you'll see).
Good luck.
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on 17 October 2001
Audition is typical of modern Japanese horror - the film starts off deceptively slowly, the viewer being given a long time to get used to and empathise with the main characters, then everything changes and a fast descent into hell begins.
For Audition, the theme is summarised in an early scene - the female protagonist declaring that 'life is but another way of reaching death'. The final scenes of the film are truly distressing and difficult to watch - torture sequences that are downright horrific.
An excellent study into human nature and its often darker extremes, Audition is aimed at mature audiences, a million miles from the 'popcorn slasher' flicks of teen US horror films such as Scream. Watch it, immerse yourself and be afraid!
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on 5 January 2002
The thing that struck me most about Audition was the way I felt after the film had finished. Maybe it was just because I watched it alone, in the dark, isolated from everything else through a big ass pair of headphones....but when I turned it off, I felt like I'd woken up from a nightmare. Thats the kind of impression it leaves on you...
The film actually starts off reasonably slowly, but not in a boring way...more intriguing. The acting is very realistic and the relationship between The father, his son, and Asami, when she comes into the picture, is very convincing. As Aoyama and Asami spend more time together, its easy for the viewer to see that Aoyama's vison is blurred and he can't see what he's getting himself into, its no surprise when Asami disappears.
The remaining part of the film leaves you wanting it to end, but your wanting to see the conclusion which puts you in a situation where you can't get out of watching the horror.
Granted...there is no REAL conclusion to the film, but I was satisfied with the ending...even slightly upset. A terrific horror movie, absolutely nothing like anything from the Western world!
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on 3 January 2007
I've been a big fan of extreme Asian cinema ever since I first watched Ringu around 6 or 7 years ago, Audition was my second foray into the genre and my first experience of Takashi Miike and I've never looked back. Having been largely uninfluenced by any media hype at this point in time it was much easier to watch the film and take more away from it. Now unfortunately it's very easy to be cynical about the blatant similarities in Asian extreme cinema, particularly 'J-Horror' although for me I still love to see film conventions done well even if the ideas are not always original. But don't misunderstand me, Audition is by no means a horror film in the traditional sense, it is however a brilliantly dark thriller which in many ways makes it all the more terrifying since we are not dealing with anything supernatural, but rather 'real' people capable of mortifying things.

The film takes quite a lot of dedication, the first half is intentionally 'boring' according to Takashi Miike (I wasn't bored but I understand what he means), lulling us into a false sense of security so that the ultimate outcome is so unexpected. I don't want to give too much of the plot away although by now it is probably very well documented, but our 'villain' is a terrifying person indeed.

The underlying terror in the film is obviously castration fears culminating most noticeably in the torture scene without ever being so blatant as to go for actual member castration but another body part instead. Also the fear of being unable to control a situation, being powerless to stop terrible things from happening to you (for both central characters in her past and his drug induced state), this is heightened by the brilliant sense of disorientation and dislocation Miike pulses throughout. Any fans of Takashi Miike can expect to see some iconic visceral offerings which you may already be accustomed to, but in a much more understated and thus more effective way. I often feel with his films that he pushes boundaries for the sake of it, daring you to enjoy sordid scenes of violence and sexual depravity, but with Audition there seems more intelligence and thought. I'm not saying it's a subtle film in itself, but it is comparatively with say Visitor Q!

Something else interesting about this film is it ignores the tradition of the victim being an innocent, I don't feel that we aren't meant to feel mild distaste for him. His process of auditioning future partners through a faux television series is presented superficially as quite humorous, but there is definitely a very dark undercurrent of chauvenism there.

Sometimes comedy, sometimes melodrama, sometimes romance, ultimately very dark thriller exploring obsession and abuse. Unforgettable. Miike Takashi's finest hour.
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on 21 June 2007
I was surprised to read a review of this film that looked upon its structure as `a lot of 'nothing finished of by a disgusting, disjointed ending'. Having seen the film I understand how you could draw such a conclusion but I feel the point of the film has been missed if you simplify such a daring structure into those basic terms. I thought the films strongest point was its brave sense of patience. The audience is not treated to a conventionally timed, sequence of frequent scare tactics, but more lulled into a state of dark anticipation. The story of a lonely man courting a woman he meets through a staged audition is initially devoid of solid horror elements, but there is an underlying menace to the chosen auditioned women that develops into a state of dread as the audience learn more about her. You the viewer, a long with the main character, are slowly lowered into a nightmare as the auditioned females dark side becomes more apparent, the slowly building tension and dread eventually culminating in an unsettling, extremely horrific climax. Yes the ending is disgusting, but I think it is important that the film goes as far as it does to finalize the metamorphosis of the female characters from odd, silent, shy girl into an almost inhuman monster capable of unspeakable cruelty.
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on 7 January 2007
Having read a lot of the reviews on Amazon before watching Audition (being careful not to read any spoilers that is!), I, as I always do with any horror or thriller/drama movie, tried to sit down without any prior knowledge of the movie. That being said, if you know enough about this movie just to know that it exists, you're probably already aware of some controversial torture scenes in it.

Even knowing this however, I was more than prepared to sit down to this film uneducated and in that form, I was very impressed with Audition. In the first 45 minutes or so, I actually found this to be quite a sad film what with the death of the lead character Aoyama's wife and his, nicely acted out, portrayal of loneliness. Now I understand this is supposed to be a thriller/horror movie and my review so far gives quite the opposite impression but I feel that the mood this movie managed to send me into during it's opening hour or so was a great move by the director.

Knowing that Aoyama only concocted his plan through desperation and a bit of a shove from his auditioning friend made me all the more worried for him. As he falls deeper into the killer Asami's trap, the film gets increasingly uncomfortable. The viewer knows that the violence will happen; it's just a matter of when and how bad it'll be. And that's the main talking point--I didn't find the violence in this film all that bad. Certainly Saw 1 seemed a bit more disturbing and the role of the disturbed Asami was played so well here that I felt quite sorry for her; her motives (she was a victim of childhood abuse and had constantly been used by men) made some of her actions almost acceptable! That and the fact she's a damn sight prettier than the jigsaw killer!

At the end of the day, you certainly shouldn't watch this movie waiting for gore as not only do I find that aspect over hyped, but there's so much more to this great piece of work; terrific acting, a really engrossing plot and some terrific psychological elements. Five out of five for me but I think a 3 for unappreciative movie fans who'd rather be munching popcorn whilst watching Cabin Fever or Jeepers Creepers.
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on 2 November 2006
I bought Audition on a whim with no prior conceptions other than the blurb on the back and its cover, and it will always be one of my personal favourites - however, if you watch this film with preconceptions of how it should be, if you sit down expecting to be disgusted and scared, it won't shine with full brilliance. A deeply unsettling film if you let it work its way under your skin, this one if best watched stone cold. I'm tired of hearing people say they're dissappointed with the outcome, bored with the acting or let down by the plot; the characters are normal, their lives are mundane, and the plot relies on rising unease rather than outright scare-tactics. That's not poor film-making - that's how it's MEANT to be here.
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on 7 February 2013
i don't want to spoil to much about the film so i'll keep it brief.

a lonely widower is convinced by his son that he should get remarried, so he and his friend hold a fake audition so that he can pick a wife out of the bunch, once he meets the woman of his dreams, he becomes emotionally attached to her, but little realizing that she is not as wonderful as she seems.

Audition isn't a horror film in the traditional sense, instead it plays out like a romantic drama for the first 58 minutes, then the last 40 minutes, it turns into a gut wrenching nightmare. i don't really have anything bad to say about the film, it delivered exactly what it promised and that was to creep you out. the cinematography is to die for, the editing is elegant and the acting is realistic as ever. the horror scenes are what get to me the most, it's almost as if Takashi miike creeped into a psychopaths house and filmed the events without them noticing, the lack of music helps build tension as you can hear the sounds of the characters, whether gasping or crawling. overall 10/10 from me. i highly recommend it.
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on 26 August 2001
Audition is one of the few horror films I have seen that is genuinely shocking and very creepy. Oddly enough it starts out as a slightly black romantic comedy. The relationship between the producer and the girl he chooses is tenderly and acutely observed. However about halfway through the film it changes from a romantic comedy to a deeply unsettling horror story. The first half allows you to identify with the main characters, which makes the second half far more disturbing.
In comparison to other recent horror films like Scream, the film eschews post modern self-referential humor, monsters and the other tacky elements that Hollywood horror films rely on. Instead it emphases the psychological and as a result is one of the scariest horror flicks I've seen.
However a word of warning; the climactic scenes of the film are deeply unpleasant; the violence is realistic and quite creative. Do not watch this film if you are easily shocked. I went with a friend of mine to see it in the cinema, and upon leaving he looked a rather unattractive shade of green.
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on 26 August 2006
For anyone who's not yet heard of Takashi Miike, here's a little background. He directs about 5 films a year and still finds time to appear as an actor in others. He regularly gets performances from actors and actresses (or, sometimes, people with no acting knowledge, experience or anything else - he'll put someone into a film because of the chemistry he knows they'll bring in, sometimes) that are well above-par. He's famous for the violence and rampant insanity in his films - though some of his best work is stuff that manages to avoid descending into violent chaos.

This is one such film. If I had my way the DVD packaging would have no pictures on it at all: just a big, black front cover declaring "Audition," "Directed by Takashi Miike" and maybe some of those review scores like we've got here. Seriously, you really don't need to know anything about the plot before watching it.

Back to the acting - y'know how awful it nearly always is when models try to act? The leading lady in this particular film is a model, and she's absolutely fantastic. It's impossible to imagine anyone playing the role of Asami better than she does. That said, the whole cast are fantastic.

This film's... Well, I don't really wanna talk much more about it. But if you've got a fully functional brain and some appreciation for really great, deep filmmaking I'd highly recommend you give this film a chance.

Other Miike films I'd highly recommend you check out are:

Ichi The Killer (unrated/uncut version, available here on Amazon I believe - the Violence Is Golden film)

The Happiness Of The Katakuris (an absolutely brilliant musical)

Rainy Dog (second film in the Black Society Trilogy and quite possibly the best)

Visitor Q (THIS is the one for people after something a little sick. It's also rather good, in an odd way.)
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