Audition

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It’s been over a decade since my first viewing experience of Takashi Miike’s Audition. I remember watching this one during a time when I was beginning to break away from more traditional mainstream horror and was delighted and horrified with the result. Audition was and remains a treat all these years later, and holds a certain moral and prevalent juxtaposition alongside the current state of sexual politics.

Audition centers around Aoyama, (Ryo Ishibashi) a lonely soul who recently lost his wife to illness, and is left to take care of his teenage son. When he has all but given up on love, his friend comes up with the idea of holding a fake film casting audition in order to help his socially secluded friend find love once again.

During the audition, Aoyama is entirely taken with the timid and beautiful, Asami (Eihi Shiina). What starts off as a heartwarming setup for something out of the When Harry Met Sally playbook, ends up spiraling into all-out twisting, atmospheric dread. This all comes to head with one of the genre’s most memorable endings.

Miike is methodical with the his bizarre pacing for Audition. What begins as an endearing setup for a barebones love story for the first 45 minutes, is completely rocked into a total violent creep fest with an electric jolt.

This occurs when Aoyama innocently decides to call Asami back for the first time. In the scene, the lovesick Aoyama nervously paces back and forth with schoolboy sensibilities before finally making his phone call. The film then cuts to Asami sitting on her knees leaning forward in a desolate apartment looking at a black rotary phone. You see a smile creeps across her face through her draped black hair  and you get your first look at a large burlap sack sitting in the corner.

From there this movie takes you for the full Miike experience. This includes horror, dream logic and dangerous visuals. A tightly wound nightmare of a film that holds up entirely.

Arrow Video does a fantastic job with this long-treasured, cult release. Complete with a brand new interview with Takashi Miike and an awkwardly perfect intro by Miike sitting timidly in an audition chair are all must see features for initiated fans.

 Complete features include:

  • Brand new 2K restoration 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
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Anton Bitel.
  • Audition is a pitch perfect genre ride and Arrow does a fantastic job of reaffirming that. All of You Audition initiated fans out there owe it to Miike to find a friend who hasn’t seen this yet and demand they have a watch.

Arrow Video’s stellar Audition blu-ray is out now and can be found here.