Audition is a shocking and intense movie. Director Miike Takashi takes us on a dark journey on which a man looking for a new wife picks entirely the wrong woman. This film is brooding and tense, building towards a horrifying chain of events which will terrify some and make others dive for cover.
The story follows Shigeharu Aoyama, a widower who owns a video production company. When his son, Shigehiko, suggests he should re-marry before it is too late, he takes the advice. His friend and colleague, Yoshikawa, sets up a casting session and they use it to screen for the perfect wife. Shigeharu has already been looking at the applications and seems to have decided on Asami Yamasaki before she arrives at the audition.
As a relationship develops between Asami and Shigeharu we are given clues to her instability and potential threat. Yoshikawa tries to turn his friend off her, even investigating Asami´s past and discovering some worrying things, but Shigeharu will not be convinced. Despite his romantic imaginings this relationship cannot end happily. The second half of the film is less conventional and we jump around in time as the action is mixed with dream sequences. This helps to build the tension and increase the horror but could prove a bit too confusing for some viewers.
The direction in the film is excellent, building tension cleverly, never revealing too much to the viewer, and sucking you in before delivering a horrifying shock. Many of the shots are simple and subtly suggestive but there is also some pretty graphic violence. The early scenes with Asami, as she sits waiting for the phone, are very effective; hinting at something very dark and sending a chill down your spine.
The acting is good and the script seems decent, allowing for cultural differences. The characters are quite well developed but not in a straight chronological way and this muddy´s your perception as the action is unfolding. The music is well chosen helping to build and alleviate the tension and the settings all fit nicely. The faceless, anonymous nature of city dwelling, the idea that you never know who is out there is used to great effect.
Director Takashi has a reputation for extreme cinema and this is no exception. The film moves at a slow pace and much of the horror is psychological but there is also graphic torture which makes for extremely uncomfortable viewing. Although the film might not be entirely realistic it is within the realms of possibility in a way that monsters and the supernatural aren´t and this makes the horror far more disturbing.
This production has been put together skillfully and the result is a really unsettling film which is quite tough to watch in places. I wouldn´t recommend it to everyone but if you are a fan of extreme cinema or horror then you should give this a try.