Monday, November 10, 2008
Asian cinema is making some insane movies, and they are so serious on their delivery. The U.S hasn’t made anything this creepy in the last 20 years and I’m glad to say that they haven’t remade this one just yet.
Audition follows a normal businessman who seeks a wife via an unorthodox search. He holds auditions to find an actress, but really what he is looking for is a new mate. The women come in one by one, and our main character Shigeharu Aoyama is fascinated by this seemingly quiet, and reserved woman Asami. He then searches her background only to find out that Asami is an insane and deeply frightening person.
Here is a trailer for Audition:
Takashi Miike creates such a deadpan and moody atmosphere with this film. The shots and photography are so bright and surreal, and remind me a lot of “Lost in Translation” at times, with long shots of translucent light, or washed out Japanese business culture, and it’s weird to consider that this is a real world (Japan), because I live so far away from it. I don’t know if it’s really like that, but the place just seems so far away and this mood is a credit to the director and cinematographer.
Sound is a key to this film as you don’t see a lot of the gore. People want to say that this film is deeply disturbing for its blood and gore, but there is none. This movie is grotesque due to the man in the sack. There is a severely crippled and sickening dude in a bag that is fed vomit, and the movie doesn’t hold back, as you watch this unfold with unflinching action. This is probably the sickest thing that most American horror fans have seen in a long time, as the film came out in 1999 and really hit the ground running amongst hardcore fanatics. This is done with such careful photography and intelligence that it rivals the sick scenes from “Old Boy” and “Perth” for insanity and photography. These are so beautiful in their grotesque and hardcore manner, that you will probably feel a bit conflicted in how it unfolds.
The pacing of the film will leave a lot of people bored. This film, at least when I saw it, wasn’t dubbed into English. You have to read the text and it’s so calm at times. Like I previously noted, there is a lot of stillness and calm to the film, and the tension builds quite nicely. It seriously plays with your emotions and conditions, as it tries really hard to make sure your heart rate is not too crazy by the time it pulls the carpet from under you. It’s a slow search initially, and there is not a ton of action, much like “Hard Candy” or “High Tension” it leads you down one path, only to make a loud noise on another plane that you didn’t expect coming. This is done so well that you start to wonder when the gore is coming or when the death toll is going to rise. You expect this film, due in large part to how much people have talked about it, to slap you in the face and grab you by the shirt, but it warms up to you with some long winded shots and low level sounds.
Why Audition is Scary: Audition scares the crap out of you, not because of the grotesque vomit eating bagged human, but because of what happens. How trusting are we? Sometimes love blinds us so much that we allow people too much access. This movie is a prime example of that. The main character goes a long way to find out about this woman that he has painstakingly searched for and it comes back to really bite him in the end. The woman that he’s fantasizing about turns up in his house, drugs him, and proceeds to cut his limbs off with such great glee and ease. This methodical and medical dissection of the main character is genius and is overtly scary in the way it plays out. Our main character can not scream and just tries to escape from his body and endure.
He is saved by his son in the end, and we see the death of our villain, but the damage has been done by the time the credits roll.
Audition plays on our fear of the internet age, even if it wasn’t the intention of the director and screenplay writer. Consider how many times people find love online and they don’t know the person, yet they are so trusting through the course of their relationship. Not just that, consider the fact that many serial killers were very good at convincing women and/or lovers to trust them. This kind of behavior is also seen in films such as “Fear”, “Gacy”, “Ted Bundy” and even “The Silence of the Lambs” where our psychotic villains convince the world around them to trust them until they snap and show their true colors. Audition does this in such a smart way, through the course of the film, only to find the main character in a deadly game.
Audition is scary because it is a model of us. Sometimes we are so desperate to gain companionship or love, that we will blind ourselves to outside influence and allow others to not only speak into our lives but put ourselves into dangerous situations all in the course of this courtship. I’m not saying that Aoyama deserves this, but he slowly lets his guard down until he puts himself into this very dangerous position, and only by sheer luck of his son coming home to find him in a dire position, does he see salvation from what surely will be his death, if not a far worse future. Beauty is deceitful, and life has a lot of layers that people try to hide, Aoyama doesn’t realize this through his search for a mate in a very unorthodox way.
Audition is a nightmare in a lot of ways. It’s so subtle at times, but it also provides such a heavy handed and grotesque human condition, that by the time the apex of tension hits, you’re already putty in your seat and the director has your heart racing. This is not supernatural, and that’s what makes it so scary. Audition is a great piece of Asian horror, and is a welcome addition to horror fans across the world. It is unflinching in its disdain for human brevity, but at the same time has enough gusto to guide your imagination into seeing what may not really be there. Audition is a scary movie, there’s no argument there, and I hope that the U.S horror community doesn’t touch it or remake it, because it won’t work.
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