Director: Takashi Miike
(this article originally appeared in Rue Morgue #33, May/June 2003)
Following the death of his wife, Aoyama’s friend suggests they hold an audition for a bride, telling the girls they are casting for a new film. They find the perfect girl in Asami: She’s young, pretty, quiet, and respectful, but her resume is full of falsifications that Aoyama uncovers after she suddenly disappears.
Aoyama’s search leads him to a lecherous and mutilated former ballet teacher and eventually to Asami for a harrowing revelation. Audition may be surprising and gruesome, but it is also terrifically atmospheric. Miike shoots many of his subjects from behind, underscoring the essential mystery and unpredictability that rests at the center of the film.
That same unpredictability drives the extended hallucination/flashback/dream scene towards the end of the film in which the narrative evaporates and Aoyama travels through memories of things that did not happen and places he’s never been in order to understand what’s going on.
Though Audition’s first hour is deliberately paced, its final 40 minutes will reward your patience with some unforgettable scenes and an ending that remains one of the most intense, squirm-inducing in modern horror.