Audition – Blu-ray review
By Brian M. Sammons
Director: Takashi Miike
Stars: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki
Like many people in North America I only became aware of this movie during the late 90s, early oughts J-horror invasion. And I must say, I was a bit dubious to see it. At that time everything, and I mean EVERYTHING from Asia (Japan, Korea, Thailand, etc.) was getting nothing but accolades and was being touted as “the best thing in…” whatever respective genre the film was set. And no, sorry, but they had just as many stupid, bad, and poorly made movies as we did over here and in Europe. Yeah they had some great films, too, but at that time I was completely burnt out on the promise of something being “the best thing ever” just because it came with subtitles. I guess that would make me a bad hipster. Anyway, the point of all this soapbox standing is that I went into this film with zero expectations…and I was totally blown away by it. Here was something you could make an argument for being “the best thing ever” and actually have something to back those words up with. So this amazingly icky and disturbing film by movie madman, Takashi Miike, has been on the radar of the serious horror fans from sometime, but it has just received the Blu-ray treatment from the madmen (and madwomen) over at Arrow Video. Is this latest edition worth a get? Well grab your piano wire, don’t forget to feed whatever you got in that bag, and let’s find out.
This description is going to be very brief because this film works best the less you know about it. If you have already seen it then you already love it or you’re just wrong. Ha, kidding…kind of. If you haven’t seen it yet, and have a strong stomach (yes this movie does have a couple of yikes moments) I highly recommend it. But for a nickel tour of the plot: a lonely widower want to find a new women in his life but he’s not one for the typical dating scene. What to do, what to do…? Well stage a phony movie audition to meet and screen for a new partner in life. Genius! After interviewing several women the man picks one to woo. The two seem to like each other and this might be a real connection. What could go wrong? Well everything and some stuff you will have no way of guessing before you see it. Yes this is one of the rare movies to have legit surprises and several time will leave you going, “What the f***…”
The acting in this is great with everyone seeming realer than real, even when those characters are creepy beyond belief. The direction is spot on and goes a long way to show the powerhouse of talent and OMG craziness of director Takashi Miike. While this movie isn’t all that old it has cast a long, dark shadow in horror cinema with many elements of it being copied in later films from around the world. When people mention a game changer, they are talking about movies like this. Yes, it really is that good.
On to the extras that Arrow Video gave us on this new Blu-ray. First there is a notable rarity when it comes to foreign language films: a director’s commentary. It is subtitled but it’s great to get Takashi Miike’s and screenwriter Daisuke Tengan’s thoughts on the film. More imports need to do this. There is also a commentary track with Takashi Mikke biographer, Tom Mes. Then Takashi Miike returns to give us a video introduction to the film and he also gives a 30 minute interview. Other interviews include one with the male lead actor, Ryo Ishibashi, that’s 16 minutes long, and one with the female lead, Eihi Shiina, that is 20 minutes. Even the old man in the wheelchair, Renji Ishibashi, and the guy from the bag, Ren Osugi, do interviews that together last for 38 minutes. There is a retrospection featurette on the move by film historian Tony Rayns that is 35 minutes long. There is both the Japanese and international trailer as well as a behind the scenes still gallery. Yes, that’s a whole lot of extras on this, but I would expect no less from Arrow Video.
Audition is a great movie and this is a great Blu-ray edition of it. Not for the faint of heart or those with weak stomachs. And it is subtitled, so if you “hate reading at the movies” then this isn’t for you. But for everyone else I can highly and easily recommend it. A must have.