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Audition (1999)

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Plot Summary:
"Seven years after the death of his wife, company executive Aoyama is invited to sit in on auditions for an actress. Leafing through the resumés in advance, his eye is caught by Yamazaki Asami, a striking young woman with ballet training. On the day of the audition, she's the last person they see. Aoyama is hooked. He notes her number from her file, calls her and takes her to dinner. He hesitates to call again, worried that he'll seem too eager. When he does, Asami knowingly lets the phone ring for some time before answering. She's alone in her darkened room - alone, that is, apart from the writhing victim she has tied up in a sack on the floor."

Reviewer: Nathan Roscoe @horrorasylum
Review Date: 18 February 2002 My Rating: out of 5


This is not for the faint of heart. For what appears to be a lightweight comedy about a Tokyo widower looking for love suddenly turns very, very nasty and has caused grown men to run from cinemas in panic at festivals around the world.

Aoyama (Ishibashi) is a -year-old executive who has raised his son alone since his wife's death. Lonely and convinced that he's losing his looks, Aoyama decides it's about time he look for a new wife before it's too late. Then a film-producer friend persuades him to participate in a 'fake' audition whereby he can screen young women ostensibly for the part of the heroine in a new movie. But only one candidate strikes a romantic chord with Aoyama, the beautiful child-like former ballerina Asami (Shiina).

A tentative romance begins and all seems well despite Asami's references not properly checking out and people associated with her mysteriously going missing. Ignoring these early warning signs, Aoyama becomes increasingly smitten with his new love. But events move into nightmarish overdrive when Asami, sitting motionless and alone for days purposely ignoring her boyfriend's calls, finally picks up the phone with an evil smile as a blood-soaked sack on the floor behind her springs into agonizing life.

From this point on, Audition becomes excruciating as Asami's agenda becomes clear. The final minutes form a drawn-out torture sequence with Aoyama suffering indignity, amputation and emasculating abuse. Is it all a warped dream fuelled by his memory of happy marriage? Or is it an agonizing hallucination revolving around the fear of a new relationship? Miike's battle of the sexes doesn't offer up any easy answers. Instead he puts true horror back into the horror film and the intense result is a punch in the stomach that will leave you stunned for days afterwards.

With its sharp direction and grisly imagination, Audition is truly one of the most horrific, frightening and distressing films to emerge from the genre in years.

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