AUDITION

3.5 Stars
Year Released: 1999
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 115 minutes
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Scared to get out there and meet that special someone for fear that they’ll turn out to be some sort of turd-burgling psycho? Well, this film from the director of the hyper-violent “Fudoh” will be the final nail in your love life’s coffin. “Audition” isn’t really an update of “Fatal Attraction” as much as it is a severe twisting of it, taking its audience through everyone’s worst obsessive relationship nightmare. It also contains some of the most brutal torture scenes ever scorched to film.
Seven years after his wife’s death, film producer Aoyama decides that it would be best for him and his teenage son if he remarry, thing is he doesn’t know how to find this bride-to-be. Guess getting hammered at bars and stumbling upon his true love like everyone does just isn’t his speed. So, a friend of his decides to help him set up an audition for a bogus film. The audition actually serves as a bridal screening process, which finds Aoyama falling head over heels for the delicate, soft-spoken Yamazaki Asami. Aoyama and Asami plunge headlong into a deep relationship, despite indifference from Aoyama’s friend who expresses his gut feeling that there’s just something not right about this girl. Aoyama pays no mind and the couple promise to love no other…ever. But, Asami soon finds out about the bunk casting call and that Aoyama had been previously married and has a son. She realizes that she could never be the only one in his life and…well…let’s just say that we get to find out what’s inside that hulking cloth sack lying in the middle of her bare apartment.
Perhaps “Audition’s” most disturbing trait, over the brutal violence, is that it’s initially paced like a light romance. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you were getting into a sappy love story, but about 45 minutes in, you get a major jolt out of nowhere that warns of choppy waters ahead. The film then carries on in a bumpy fashion, with both characters falling in love with each other, little danger signs popping up here and there, with the last 30 minutes taking you on a rocket ride straight to hell. It’s hard to believe that it’s the same movie you started watching an hour and a half ago. But even though that first 45 minutes is fairly light romantic fair, the way it’s shot does much to sap the energy out of all of the scenes, making it a very cold experience. This isn’t “When Harry Met Sally”. The camera will hold wide on a couple of characters talking without going to perspective shots or if it does, it will hold for an uncomfortably long time on a character’s reaction. So, even then, there’s this overhanging feeling of impending doom.
Despite the last 45 minutes containing some truly disturbing material, some of its punch is unfortunately lost due to a blurring of the lines between reality, drug induced nightmares and flashbacks. All of these elements jump into the pot together to make a rather filthy stew. Once the film ends, it’s quite clear what has taken place, but it’s how these characters became enlightened about certain events that confuses me. It’s kind of a shame, but it still doesn’t keep “Audition” from standing as one of the most shocking Japanese horror films ever. It needs to be seen to be believed, but those with queasy stomachs would do well to stay away.



Posted on December 12, 2001 in Reviews by
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