What do you do when you are lonely and looking for a new wife but aren’t having much luck? Why not hold an audition for a movie for the “part” of your new wife and get a pool of applicants to pick and choose from? That’s what Shigeharu does at his friend’s suggestion. However, what was supposed to be a cattle call develops into something much more sinister when one of the girls isn’t quite what she seems.
Such is the plot of Takashi Miike’s AUDITION, where we take something that could have been the plot of a 90s/00s romantic comedy and twists it into something terrible in the way only Miike could. And boy, does he twist it. The ending alone is worth the price of admission as it is a gripping and intense fifteen minutes. But the build up is part of the fun and equally worth your time as you watch the budding romance between Shigeharu and Asami.
There are some movies out there that just get right into the consciousness of the community right off the bat, movies that people rave about and you know you have to seem the right away. AUDITION was one of those for me. I read about it in Usenet groups and everyone talked up about how great it was and how it was so shocking and that you didn’t know it was a horror movie until the crazy finale. Most of that is true, however making it seem like we don’t know something is up right off the bat isn’t quite right about Asami. She seems sweet and innocent, but then does weird things like wait by the phone in her threadbare apartment for Shigeharu to call with a large sack prone to random movements behind her.
What’s in the bag? That’s part of the fun finding out as it ties into the nightmare of an ending.
Either way, it is one hell of a ride and one that I enjoyed back in the day and enjoyed revisiting over 20 years later on THE LAST DRIVE IN. If you’ve never seen it, it’s best to go in as cold as you can so you can enjoy the full effect. Even knowing some spoilery bits (like from the covers of the physical media), it still hits hard and you will be in for a real and brutal treat.
Check it out.