Takashi Miike’s Audition likely needs no introduction to certain quarters of our readership. The film is an absolute classic, and it is revered by many as a pivotal piece of Asian horror cinema. Sure, it may have a certain reputation due to that ending, but there’s a whole lot more to Audition than mere depravity and stomach-churning actions.
Plot-wise, the film centres on Shigeharu (Ryo Ishibashi), a long-time widower who hasn’t moved on with his life since the untimely passing of his wife. At the behest of his son, Shigehiko (Tetsu Sawaki), he decides to look for love once more. Calling in the assistance of his film producer pal, Yasuhisa (Jun Kunimura), it’s decided that the best way to find a new beau is to stage a faux audition process in order to land the gig of Shigeharu’s new wife. When Asami (Eihi Shiina) arrives at the auditions, Shigeharu is completely smitten with her, and soon his life will never be the same again. Soon enough, the audience is let in on the fact that Asami was abused as a child, and when her apparent CV-cum-résumé doesn’t seem to add up, events start to veer into the mysterious before finally landing at a tense, nerve-tingling, wince-inducing finale.
Sure, Audition was first released back in 1999, but to elaborate any further on the plot would be a massive F-U to anybody who has yet to see Miike’s film and a move that would ruin one of the most impactful closing sequences that we’ve seen over the past twenty years. But safe to say, Audition is a divine and delicious slice of Asian horror that is worthy of its status as an iconic piece of not just Asian horror or J-horror, or even horror as a whole, but as an iconic piece of cinema. The film is lavishly coloured with the recurring themes of love and pain and the relationship between these two emotions, and Miike really put his stamp on world cinema with a psychological, shocking effort that left a mark on any and all who saw it during its initial release or any of its subsequent re-releases.
Granted, Audition will always be best-known for its closing twenty minutes or so, but there is so, so much more going on underneath the surface of a film whose reputation would often have casual moviegoers thinking that this is merely just another generic J-horror with a few gnarly scenes. It’s not. In fact, this is a movie that transcends any and all labels or tag you could throw on it for the most-part. And just to add some extra sizzle to this steak, the ever-great guys at Arrow Video have brought together a new release of Audition that’s absolutely crammed with some fantastic and informative extras that only bring more to the viewing experience. Any of the extras involving Takashi Miike himself instantly grab the attention, but the Damaged Romance feature is also something that shines, highlighting the career of Miike in a way rarely seen.
All in all, this new release of Audition is one that simply needs to be in your collection. Buy it. Buy it now... and forever fear piano wire!
Special Features: Audio commentary with Tatakshi Miike and Daisuke Tengan / Audio commentary by Takashi Miike biographer Tom Mes / Intro by Takashi Miike / Damaged Romance: An appreciation by Tony Rayns / Interviews / Trailers / Gallery
AUDITION / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: TAKASHI MIIKE / SCREENPLAY: DAISUKE TENGAN / STARRING: RYO ISHIBASHI, EIHI SHIINA, JUN KUNIMURA, TETSU SAWAKI, MIYUKI MATSUDA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW