Blu-ray: Audition (1999)
Arrow’s newly restored release of Audition was my baptism of fire into Japanese horror. Made in 1999 and directed by Takashi Miike, Audition has shocked audiences with its graphic and grotesque scenes since its release and has become a critic’s favourite, winning various accolades and being listed on several ‘Best Horror Film Lists’.
Many directors have quoted the film as having a huge influence on their careers and it has been credited with the phrase ‘Torture Porn’ due to its horrific, blood curdling and disturbing torture scenes.
Audition is about a widower Shigharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) whose son tells him he needs to find a wife. Having had a script approved by his film company to be made into a film, Aoyama, strongly encouraged by his friend, decides to hold auditions for the main lead female role and uses the audition process to try and meet a future wife. During the audition process Aoyama spots a girl who he feels could be the one. Asami (Eihi Shiina) appears to be interested in him and they start to date. All appears to be going well until Aoyama finds out Asami has a dark side.
When I started to watch this film my first thoughts were “oh, this is a little slow” however by the end of the film, my closing thoughts were “well’ fuck me!” An absolutely amazing film, it frightened me to my very core. Glenn Close ain’t got nothing on this girl I am telling you! The film in my opinion does start off slowly, however this is vital for the contrast of the final torture scenes; they are horrific! I was literally covering my eyes when Asami shows her darkside to Aoyama. They are shot so graphically and realistically I truly believed I was feeling Aoyama’s pain. I was wincing in my own parallel imaginary agony and shouting at him in fear to move his arse out of the situation he was in. It disturbed and unsettled me. I was thinking about a particular scene for days after, I just could not get the image out of my head. It is horror at its best.
The extras for the film include a full commentary by the Director. I would encourage anyone to listen to this as you feel the passion he has for the film. He speaks honestly and openly about the struggles they had during the making of the film and also what worked well. I enjoyed some of the stills from the auditions as they were quite funny at times. They captured the different walks of life you would encounter attending an audition.
The script is very well written, based on a novel of the same title and is easy to follow. The cast are well chosen and the acting is superb, especially the psychotic character of Aoyama. Her metamorphosis from the shy almost boring character at the start into the monster at the end of the film frightens you into the realisation that you never truly know what goes on inside other people’s heads.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
- Brand new 2K restoration of original vault elements
- Original 5.1 Dolby Surround Audio
- Optional English subtitles
- Audio commentary with director Takashi Miike and screenwriter Daisuke Tengan
- Brand new commentary by Miike biographer Tom Mes examining the film and its source novel
- Introduction by Miike
- Ties that Bind – A brand new interview with Takashi Miike
- Interviews with stars Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Renji Ishibashi and Ren Osugi
- Damaged Romance: An appreciation by Japanese cinema historian Tony Rayns
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin