Audition ★★★★½

An immaculately construed nightmare that isn't an easy watch and leaves viewers to form there own conclusions, this is a must see film for fans of the horror genre.
Ryo Ishibashi stars as Aoyama, a widower who has raised his son alone since his wife passed seven years ago. Although he is a good father he hasn't really moved on since his wife's death and it isn't until he's urged on by his son that Aoyame decides he would like to re-marry. Un-sure how to go about meeting women, he speaks to his friend Yoshikawa, a film producer who talks him into holding a fake audition/casting for a film so that he can whittle down potential partners before choosing one to go on and date. Aoyama isn't keen at first, realising that it's more than a little shady but he's talked around by his friend and it's while he's going through applications one instantly catches his eye. Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) is a beautiful classically trained dancer and when she 'auditions' Aoyama is smitten, undeterred when Yoshikawa can't find any information about her past, Aoyama continues to see her and is soon under her spell but Asami isn't as sweet and innocent as she first seem's, she's actually a mentally disturbed young girl with a dark past and Aoyama is about to fall into her trap.
For the first half of the movie this really isn't a horror film at all, more like a gentle, kind of depressing romantic drama, although there is always a sense that something isn't quite right, a quiet foreboding slowly bubbling away under the surface. The first time we meet Asami, the mood changes slightly, she walk's in dressed all in white and although she seem's sweet and fragile, something about her makes us nervous bit it isn't until around the halfway point that things take a chilling turn, with the introduction of a suspicious looking burlap sack and one my favourite ever jump scares, the film switches gears and doesn't let up until the credits role.
The second half of the movie truly is horrific at times with some scenes hard to watch. When Asami disappears and Aoyama turns detective trying to find her there are a few really disturbing scenes and for some reason this part of the film reminds me of Angel Heart, possibly because they share a similar nightmarish quality. The scene where he visits her old ballet school and the scene where he visits the pub she claims to have worked are both very unsettling but their's worse to come and the climatic scenes are ones you won't forget in a hurry, the words "kiri,kiri,kiri" will be ingrained in my head for a while. The film also ends in an ambiguous fashion leaving the viewer to make their own mind up about what they have witnessed and while there are plenty of theories bandied about the deeper meaning of the film, I just like to see it as a chilling and terrifying movie that set's out to unnerve and more than achieves it's goal.
Overall, this is a stunning piece of cinema that mesmerise's and manipulates in equal measures, although both shocking and violent, there's also a more cerebral level of horror here and that's what stays with you the longest.

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