One of those subgenres of horror films I tend to avoid are the more disturbing and gory films, but, it being Halloween and all, at least one had to make the list. Though Saw and Hostel are obvious choices, I have already seen those so this pick today is a little more obscure- the Japanese film, Audition.
Based on a novel by Ryû Murukami and adapted by Daisuke Tengan, this Takashi Miike film is about a man whom, seven years after the death of his wife, under the guise of casting a film, hold auditions in order to find himself a new wife. Yeah. You read that right. Unfortunately for Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), the girl he believes is the perfect match for him turns out to be far more than he could have ever imagined.
If I’m being honest, I didn’t particularly enjoy this film. As we debated between it and Funny Games to clutch this coveted spot, we heard it was pretty messed up but had a sort of feminist element to it and that last bit really sealed the deal for us, but when you hear something is pretty gross you’d expect it to be gross throughout, right? That’s not the case here. Audition has a couple of brutal moments, accentuated by the almost gleeful chanting of “kiri kiri kiri” by our merry murderess, Asami (Eihi Shiina), but is overall devoid of most anything violent. Instead, it goes a different route.
The film spends much of its time building up to its famous climax. There are several scenes where it clearly demonstrates just how terrible Shigehaura and his attitude towards women truly is. This leaves you wondering how he married anyone in the first place, let alone how he could ever expect to find a happy marriage that fits his specifications since he prefers women who are obedient and well trained. Barf. Why does he talk about women like they’re just some animal he borrowed for an hour or so every day before returning it back to whence it came? The film doesn’t hold back its punches on this front until the very end when it’s time for him to atone for the wrongs he’s done in life and suddenly you’re meant to feel bad for him. Do I think that men who display these toxic ideas about how women “should be” should end up tortured and missing body parts? No. Definitely not, but I do find it odd that a film that’s worked so hard to make you hate Shigeharu, would try to change your mind at the last minute.
Natalie and I have been going back and forth about this. We can agree the last act of the film is pretty disappointing and anticlimactic but we can’t see to come to an agreement about what the film is trying to say with its confusing position on women. She’s landed in the camp of Gone Girl. Audition displays that she is evil (though exactly why is still very much a mystery. If you believe the sedative-induced hallucinations as fact then it certainly is because of how men have treated her over the course of her life) but it doesn’t want you to root for him to be tortured. If you know anything about this film (and now you do) you know that it’s going to happen but the film doesn’t want you to celebrate this fact. To say he deserves it may be a little bit of a stretch, but not in the context of the film. It’s a weird position to put the film in that is definitely not as effective here as in other places.
The film is overall alright. The cinematography for most of the film is decidedly bland. As it nears the climax it does seem to get a little bit better but not by too much. The pacing is pretty slow. I’m sure it’s supposed to build tension but mostly just made me impatient. All of this coupled with the odd choice of choppy editing, I found the film pretty frustrating to watch. Unless you’re already intrigued by this film, I may advise you skip it and just google the gross scenes to see what you’re “missing.”