Audition

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Review by David Paul Hellings

@HellingsOnFilm

“Arrow Video is thrilled to announce the release of their latest Takashi Miike title, the notorious J-horror, Audition, which arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on 29th February 2016 and also comes as a limited edtion Steelbook.

One of the most shocking J-horror films ever made, Audition exploded onto the festival circuit at the turn of the century to a chorus of awards and praise. The film would catapult Miike to the international scene and pave the way for such other genre delights as Ichii the Killer and The Happiness of the Katakuris. The latter was made available by Arrow Video on Blu-ray and DVD last year.

Recent widower Shigeharu Aoyama is advised by his son to find a new wife, so he seeks the advice of a colleague having been out of the dating scene for many years. They take advantage of their position in a film company by staging an audition to find the perfect woman. Interviewing a series of women, Shigeharu becomes enchanted by Asami, a quiet, 24-year-old woman, who is immediately responsive to his charms. But soon things take a very dark and twisted turn as we find that Asami isn’t what she seems to be…

Pulling the audience into a story that will lead to one of the most harrowing climaxes in cinema history, Miike twists and turns us through delirious editing and shocking visuals for one of the most depraved nightmares of all time!”

– via Arrow Video

Review:

Some relationships sadly just aren’t meant to be. Love is strange, sometimes broken, sometimes twisted to the point that the last mistake you’ll make is to choose your partner unwisely. In the wonderful world of J-horror, those kind of random mistakes can lead you into the lands of madness and extremity. Welcome to “Audition”.

Directed by Takashi Miike from a screenplay by Daisuke Tengan, based on the novel by Ryu Murakumi, “Audition” was Miike’s thirty-fifth feature after a career of straight to DVD low budget genre produce and would finally allow him to use the many skills he’d learnt working fast and cheap, to create his breakthrough film.

“Audition” is a cautionary tale of what happens when you overcomplicate the search for love, as film producer Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) finds to his cost when he meets the seemingly shy Asami Yamakazi (Eihi Shiina).

It is the portrait of a cracked mind, akin at times to “Play Misty for Me” or “Fatal Attraction”, but Aoyama is no arrogant male caught out by the actions of his own ego, but rather a mourning, shy widower who puts too much faith in the bad advice of a friend and even more in his own romanticised view of life and the people in it. It is a revenge tale in which revenge is not deserved.

Miike’s film still shows to this day the divide between the imaginative and often shocking direction that J-horror moved the genre in, and the rent a cliché that continues to dominate the markets in the English language speaking zones. “Audition” is a slow burn that moves onwards towards the price that men pay for their stupidity when it comes to love and women as a commodity.

“Audition” is driven by the chillingly simple performance of Eihi Shiina, who creates a character in Asami that is both sympathetic and alarming in equal measure, allowing the audience to be both engaged and repulsed by her actions. Middle-aged businessmen around the globe must have sat uncomfortably watching her in action.

Director Miike now looks back on his film with mixed feelings, noting areas that he would change or do differently if he was making it today. Even so, “Audition” remains a great watch and one that horror fans still enjoy. Never did the dating game appear so terrifying.

The 2K Restoration looks excellent, removing blemishes and damage and returning the original film to its former glory, retaining the colour and grain. “Audition” is highly recommended and remains one of the best of the J-horror releases to date.

Special Features

  • Brand new 2K restoriation 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
  • Trailers
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin

This review originally appeared on SFFWorld at:

http://www.sffworld.com/2016/02/audition/

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