***(out of 4 stars)
I've seen some of my favorite horror films on the big screen. I'm talking classics too! Man, in the past year I've seen (in 35mm print) Halloween, Gates of Hell, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Zombie, Alligator, Pieces and most recently, Audition.
The experience is great, that is the first thing about it. The second great thing is that the people who pay their hard earned dollar to see these films know what they're getting into. They (WE) are there to see some great horror from yesteryear and we don't put up with loud mouthed punks talking about what they did earlier in school, or the asshole down below you who keeps insisting that his texting is more entertaining than that of the film, or how about the moron who has seen the film and loves to crack a joke right before a peculiar scene comes up. Yeah, we don't deal with these assholes who just seem to enjoy throwing money away so they can have a two hour texting conversation with their equally asinine friend.
Enough ranting. I saw Takashi Miike's Audition on Friday evening. The experience was what I thought it would be - great. Great and kind of disturbing.
First, let me tell you that this film is slow. It's slow, but don't let that sway your decision about seeing it. Trust me, it's a good flick. The slow burn helps to tell a compelling and very disturbing tale about love, acceptance, betrayal, loss, death and torture. Yeah, confusing right? Watch the film and try wrapping your brain around what you see. Guarantee you'll have to watch it a second time. Guarantee it!
After the death of his wife, Shigebaru Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is lost and left devastated. His colleague, producer and friend, Yasuhisa (Jun Kunimura) suggest that they have an Audition to find him a new bride. After numerous auditions, the plan seems to fail. That is, until a shy and beautiful woman named, Asami (Eihi Shiina) wins over Shigebaru with her audition. Shigebaru is enchanted and intrigued by this young women and he can't stop thinking about her. But underneath all the facade, lies a more dark and sinister women. After Yasuhisa does some investigating, he finds that Asami's past is suspect.
Takashi Miike builds on a solid story first. Much of this film plays on character development and delves into the psychosis of those characters. But once Miike takes us to the meat and potato's of the story, we are introduced to some barbaric and disturbing images.
There's one scene in particular that gets me every time. Ryo contemplates calling Asami over and over. Once he does make that call, we see Asami, kneeling down in her living room, whilst a big burlap sack lies next to her. What in the world could be in that sack? Miike doesn't show us right away. He's too smart of a director. Instead the questions lingers and later it is finally revealed as to what is really in that sack. When it is revealed I'm repulsed every time.
The ending is the most startling part of this film. This is where we really get to see what kind of person Asami really is and what her intentions really are. Wait for her to smile and whisper the words, "deeper, deeper, deeper".
But there are other elements and sequences of this film that have another kind of horror. We are shown through flashbacks as Asami's ballet teacher burns her inner thighs when she was a young girl. Her teacher is creepy. He sits in a wheel chair and has artificial feet. He literally is wearing the feet of some other person. Later and through flashbacks, we get to see how he meets an unfortunate, yet fortunate demise.
The flashback sequences do remind me of Lynch. Although Miike's flashbacks do help to tell the story in a cohesive manner. Sometimes, unlike that of Mr. Lynch. The flashbacks offer a glimpse as to what we've just witnessed for our entire stay at the theatre or in front of the TV. Masterful story telling. This is a horror film that won't soon be forgotten.
If you ever come by this film and you're staring at the cover, trying to decide whether to watch it or not, just remember my recommendation. Stop by and thank me later.
Starring: Ryo Ishibashi and Eihi Shiina
Directed by: Takashi Miike
Written by: Daisuke Tengan