Audition ★★★★★

Great horror films always rely on behaviors and emotions that stem from the realities of life. They used to say, “don’t be scared of monsters or ghosts,” “be scared of the living.” Director Takashi Miike effectively utilizes this idea exploring our deepest, and darkest desires, and the wretched psychologies we have as human beings. Audition starts off as a strange domestic comedy-drama about a widowed man who decides to start dating again. With a help of a friend, they have decided to audition young women for a fake film production as a dating service. But again as they said, “be careful what you wish for,” as the widower gets entangled with the mysterious woman he chose.

Audition is a study of deception and in its microscopic world, Miike fully realizes its agenda as a much greater, provocative social statement against Japanese society, gender roles, and patriarchy. Miike understands that “perfect” wives don’t really exist, and sometimes these ideas of toxic masculinity and patriarchy endanger women and children. Thus, the mysterious woman (Asami) is the byproduct of society’s inability to acknowledge this mindset. Horrifically abused as a young girl, Asami eventually turns to men as her way to exorcise her own demons. It’s the men that made her become the monster that she is. Miike, who I read as a flamboyant and highly stylized director, puts a sophisticated technique and restraint in this film. Audition effectively stimulates terror and horror from the character’s inner psychologies before using graphic violence as its tool for catharsis. Its sinister, claustrophobic air is so thick that it literally lingers in your skin. And by the time Miike unleashes its graphic violence on the third half makes it all so satisfying, and compelling.

Model-actress Eihi Shiina makes a knockout, breakthrough performance as Asami, and she relishes her with enough restraint to keep the mystery afloat. It’s one of those unsettling performances that scream iconic, and Shiina makes sure we won’t forget her. Overall, Audition is ambitiously daring not because of the disturbing violence and abuse portrayed, but rather on its deep protestations. That is why Asami says repeatedly “kiri kiri kiri…” (deeper…)

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