Imagine a petite young woman who may be anywhere between 17 and 30 years old. She is uncommittal to two men who ask her basic questions, and the most personal aspect she has revealed is how she is content to have enough money to buy books and see movies in an unimaginable way. In Takashi Miike'sAudition, the enigmaticAsami (Eihi Shina) is offered a role by the much older Widower Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo I
After Ringu's commercial success, the Omega Project arranged for Takashi Miike to adapt the material. The film was shot for three weeks and when it was first shown at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2000, it received numerous walkouts.
Takashi Miikes cult classic is always taken by surprise by its funny set-up, silly girls laughing, and unexpected surprises after. If you dont already know the source material, youll be reaching for the nearest vomit bag or bucket. Asami is one of the most unlikely monsters in horror film history and legitimately terrifying and no one of us is any closer to discovering who she is or why she is capable of such cruelty.
J-horror is now a fast-selling and far-reaching genre and Western readers will no doubt know them from Natsuo Kirino, Koji Suzuki, and Hideaki Sena. Audition author Ryu Murakami is a must-read for anyone who wants to experience horrific, unsettling, and unreliable situations in Japan's literary landscape. Park and Miike's filmmaking are also as under-the-skin as Chan-Wook Park and Miike's film
Murakami's menacing novel was published in 1997 and was later adapted by Miike in 1999. It does have some elements that will be familiar to viewers: an ominously gothic tone, haunting rural setting, terrifying scenes, and a fascinating antagonist. Takashi's film and Asami (the focal point of this article) constantly mislead the audience at every opportunity throughout the film.
Asami and Aoyama meet up. After she shows him her flaws, Asami requests that she tell her that he loves her. The following morning Asami is gone. These scenes are intercut with clips of memory, torture, Asami seeing waves on a beach, and a what-if exploring their dynamics in a normal way. "She was a very important character for me. In the original novel, I think she was there, but being played by that actress, she became a very sympathetic figure."
Asami is a completely blank slate, but in the majority of her interactions with Aoyama, we barely see her speak to another person. There are scenes depicting a ballerina being tortured, but is that really her?
Asami is a refreshing alternative to horror. Evil female characters always need to have some ham-fisted background to justify why they are or do what they do. Abuse, or a dead child, or daddy issues, or trauma. It is a lazy habit to tack emotional motivation onto a female character. In the horror genre, it is at its worst.
A girl with few words who never answers questions about why she performs these brutal torture and cruelty acts. Or where she even came from; we can't be 100% sure if this is a dark fantasy her warped mind conjured up. What is left to salvage from Audition, is that there is no harrowing drama?