When lonely widower Aoyama decides to re-marry, his best friend Yoshikawa concocts a series of auditions seeking the perfect woman to “play” Aoyama’s wife for a phony film. Enthralled by the quiet, gentle demeanor of a young woman named Asami Yamazaki, Aoyama seeks to further the off-screen relationship with her but she’s got a mysterious past he’s determined to unravel before making a lifetime commitment, however short that may end up being.
Takashi Miike’s Audition is well-known, and much-loved by fans and for good reason, it’s a cringe-inducing thriller guaranteed to leave you with a chills running down your spine long after the film has ended; something that doesn’t happen often enough in cinema. This was the film that really introduced Miike to the genre community and it stands as arguably one of his best films outside of The Bird People in China, Blues Harp, Ichi the Killer & The Happiness of the Katakuris.
Those going into Audition with the expectation of being bowled over by outrageous violence and lurid, fleshly encounters will be greatly disappointed as Miike instead opts instead for a creeping serenity and the feeling of unmistakable dread; we don’t know what’s going to happen but we just know it’s not going to be good. And…indeed it is not. Patient viewers will find themselves richly rewarded with a startlingly disturbing finale overflowing with culturally specific subtext and good old-fashion bang-for-your-buck horror.
Shout Factory! have really gone out on a limb releasing films during this lull in consumer interest due to the recession but securing the rights to Audition and offering so many new, well produced and informative extras is a sure bet and a true no-brainer for anybody with a hole burning in their pocket. I was incredibly disappointed to discover that the hard-to-read subtitles featured on both the DVD & Blu-ray Disc weren’t removable, a major negative for movie geeks like me, but the transfer and audio mixes were absolutely stunning and a major improvement from the Lionsgate release from a few years back. With a price tag that’s hard to beat for any Blu-ray Disc, let alone a 2-Disc SE of Audition, the one and only thing that could have made this the perfect release was removable subs.
Audition is a modern horror classic and a must-own for film collectors. If you’ve seen it, and you’ve experienced it’s dismembering charm, than you know that it’s time to set aside those other copies you have sitting on your shelf and pony up the cha-ching for the Shout Factory! DVD or Blu-ray Disc, it’s a well deserved upgrade and worth every cent. I look forward to more solid releases from Shout Factory! in the future.