I did say I was going to do this. And quite frankly, I have to. As stated in my review, Audition is a difficult film to review because potentially saying anything more than that it’s a movie that exists could be viewed as a spoiler. The poster that most people will see when they look this movie up arguably shows too much.
But now that I have a lot more room to work around with, here are my additional comments on why I think Audition might be on the top of the totem pole when it comes to the genre.
So the biggest twist about Audition is also the biggest reason this film is hard to review. Just saying that this is a horror film is a spoiler. The first 40 minutes is very much an oddball romantic drama/comedy. There are hints that maybe Asami isn’t entirely honest about her background, but nothing to indicate should be that bad.
That’s until you see the shot. And anyone who watches the film should know exactly what I’m referring to. What is almost a hard edit of Asami sitting in her room, head facedown, waiting for Aoyama to call her. Aside from the framing and lighting that makes the image feel so sinister, there’s a bag that seems full hanging out in the background of which the contents are unknown.
But then Aoyama finally calls back, and everything seems right again. Until the bag randomly thrashes, the film nicely tells you that you are about to watch a very different movie. This tonal shift is so crucial to Audition success. It’s effectively jarring where suddenly every scene feels much more tense and unsure of what’s about to happen.
If I had to have a favorite sequence from all of these films in this marathon, then the last 25-30 minutes would be an easy winner. Going surreal through Aoyama’s dreams after having a spiked drink, we see everything set up throughout the film. Asami’s family history, the bag man, and Aoyama’s inner conflict, he tries to convince himself that everything is alright and Asami is still at least a semi-normal person. This is the point in the film where I felt genuinely afraid of my wellbeing. My whole body just tensed up with this constant urge to feel.
Which is my highest sort of praise for a horror film. So honestly, that’s pretty good in my book. And that’s only the first half. We still have everything that happens when Aoyama wakes up from his dream. And the jealous and unforgiving Asami reveals her intentions in a several-minute torture scene where all Aoyama can do is lie on the floor and feel every injection and needle that’s inserted into his body. All of this is pretty horrifying to watch, even as someone who considers himself a gore-hound.
All of this is before Asami brings the barbed wire out.
When it set up how good these things are cutting anything apart by severing her stepfather’s head from his shoulders, then it’s pretty easy to guess what is going to happen when these are applied to Aoyama’s legs. Grizzly and unwavering, this whole scene solidifies my now intense fear of barbed wire. I took a shower, look down at my legs, and felt grateful that I’d still have them. The most disturbing aspect of it isn’t even the gore or just hearing wire cutting through flesh. No, it’s the image of Asami giggling with a big grin on her face as she’s performing this horrendous act. It’s forever scarred in my memory.
Audition is an incredible film in that I’d gave my highest grade for. But’s it stupidly hard to discuss either because they may not have the stomach to watch the film, or I don’t even want them even to know why the second half exists as is. But if you are reading this and still haven’t watched the film, then you might not even care to begin with. So watch the movie.