Audition ★★★★

Miike's masterpiece, without a doubt. He has a special talent when doing horror to show incredibly shocking and gruesome things directed in the precise way to make even someone seasoned to horror really affected and upset. Sure, a lot of this comes from how well he directs: flat, stable camera angles during horrific scenes to just capture every detail and shaky camera movements when things start to spiral out of control. However, the way his narratives are constructed are even more important, as he takes a very very long time to lull the viewer into a more placid story to then have the violence shock them to their core. This is why I disliked Ichi the Killer; the brutality was so present and in-your-face it lost a lot of impact. Whereas in Audition, the very bland and mundane presentation (something that works great in other Japanese horror like Ringu or Occult) leads way to the genuinely upsetting ending.

Miike's experimental side also helps add a lot of flavor to his movies. The hallucinatory segments of this reminded me of his other film Gozu, but much more subdued and controlled here. While I loved the way they were filmed and the tone of them, it does call into question my only big problem in the movie, which is some of the story coherence. As the movie heads to the finale, the way the narrative twists around bothered me a little since it was so straightforward to begin with. I don't usually mind an abstract ending or unexplained plot elements, but the way this movie was presented it felt like the events should have been explained more directly near the end. Still, this didn't ruin the overall emotional effect of the film, and I give a lot of credit to Miike for being able to affect me even with what I'm used to. Highly recommend.

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