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Audition (1999)

November 18, 2009

7/10 Peglegs

Takes a while to reach that paydirt, but once you’re there, sweet sassy molassy, you will not forget it.

Audition is about a widower who, with the help of his friend the film producer, sets up a fake cattle call for a non-existent movie as a means to find a woman that, hopefully, might just be the (next) one. He quickly finds himself falling for a timid brunette, but by the time he figures out that she’s batshit crazy through and through, it’s unfortunately far too late to just give her the old “We need to talk” bit and get on eHarmony like the rest of his widower pals.

Now, I haven’t seen too many movies by director Takashi Miike, but it doesn’t take too many encounters to realize that there aren’t a whole lot of other dudes out there that make ’em like he does. The guy is pretty out there, and he’s one sick mofo, but I don’t see a whole lot of other horror directors out there that are going anywhere the kind of sadomasochistic and challenging shit the Miike has become infamous for pulling off with style.

And that’s probably what’s most interesting about Audition. This is one messed up movie, but it’s also crafted in a way that it doesn’t cheapen the movie as a whole. The main reason being that Miike just does a great of keeping the tension at this horribly unsettling slow boil that by the time the last fifteen minutes roll around, you’re either in it for the long haul or you’ve got your trigger finger trained on the STOP button because it is just too damn much to take.

Miike keeps his audience in the dark about what’s really going on along with giving an explanation as to what the hell is up with this weird-ass girl, and with each subtle, bizarro hint he drops as to her true colors, you can’t help but keep watching. It’s a pretty jaw-dropping and unnerving trip, but good lord does it separate the sheep from the goats by the time the climax rolls around.

But the double-edged sword of this movie is the said last ten or fifteen minutes. I think a lot of people have seen or have heard about this movie solely because of this final scene, and by the time you finally see it, everything else that came before pretty much pales in comparison. This is a bad thing because when someone asks you, “Have you ever seen Audition?”, they’re really asking you, “Have you ever seen the last ten or fifteen minutes of Audition?” Granted, the scene is beyond insane, and while it does do a dandy job of confirming the audience’s suspicions and culminates the building intensity in a truly nightmarish fashion, it also isn’t doing any favors to the rest of the movie in a certain sense either.

The pacing is also pretty slow at times in the hour and forty minutes leading up to this wonderful little segment, and it has a signature Miike non-ending to it that I continue to wonder whether I like or not, but in the grand scheme of things, neither of these things really detracted from the movie all that much anyway.

Also, is it just me or did this charming woman’s punishment really not fit the lonely widower’s crime? Seems a tad extreme for duping her into believing she was trying out for an acting gig. Totally overreacted.

But still, even with its faults, Audition is something else. Not only is it a very well-made and utterly twisted horror movie, it’s one of those things that’s worth seeing just so you can say, “I survived Audition.” And amazingly enough, it’s not even Miike’s most extreme effort.

Good ol’ 1999, back when J-horror was in it’s prime…

And is it weird that I crack up at that last scene now? Anyone else think there’s some dark, dark, dark comedy going on there? Just want to make sure I’m not tapping into any Freudian homicidal urges or anything.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. November 18, 2009 8:48 am

    in the words of stan marsh, or was it kyle browlowski – i have to see this movie, dude. dunno why i just havent got round to it yet, but will do. sweet review. as usual, all the crap cut out.

    • November 18, 2009 8:49 am

      hahaha, thanks, man. it’s a trip alright, lemme know what you think once you get around to it.

  2. nothatwasacompliment permalink
    November 18, 2009 3:50 pm

    i wish i had seen this without knowing that there was that crazy ending coming. probably woulda made it that much more shocking and enjoyable.
    though, on the other hand, if i didn’t know there was going to be such a good payoff, i might have gotten too bored with it to continue.

  3. December 3, 2009 12:54 pm

    damn. heard so much about it. finally wanna see it. now!

  4. December 4, 2009 8:29 pm

    How to fuck with the audiences’ head 101 by Takashi Miike! I saw this at cinema as part of an “Asian Extreme” season. It was described as a J Horror but I hadn’t read any reviews on it, I knew something was coming but had no idea what. Possibly the best way to see it. The ending is all the more brutal and shocking because of the build-up. Go and see a film like Saw or Hostel and you are desensitized to it after the first gory scene.

    • December 7, 2009 1:36 pm

      Totally agree. I am not on the Eli Roth bandwagon. Dude has jack shit on Takashi Miike. In fact, no one has jack shit on Takashi Miike.

  5. March 14, 2010 2:22 pm

    I love the first hour and forty minutes more than those last fifteen, to be honest. Yes, the last fifteen are intense and serve their purpose, but the true meat of the film is in what comes before those final minutes, because without the set-up those final minutes would be meaningless gore. I’m also partial to movies that move at a slower, more languid pace, so no pacing issues for me.

    Glad you liked it though, even if I would rate it much higher, it’s in my top 100 of all time.

    • March 14, 2010 5:14 pm

      Yeah, never thought it was meaningless gore, which is why it works as well as it does, but I feel like this is a hard movie to go into blind by now without having heard anything about it beforehand, the last fifteen minutes in particular. As a result, everything that comes before it is good, but I feel like most people are just kinda waiting around for the acupuncture and peg-legging. Bummer. Wish I had gone into it blind.

  6. June 15, 2010 11:45 pm

    Nice Review! I basically agreed with you on a lot of the points you made. Check out my review at

  7. November 7, 2012 10:38 pm

    I personally thought this movie was bullshit. I don’t understand how having a “non-ending” can not detract from the film. It totally did. There is nothing worse than to have a large build up and a terrible conclusion. Also, are we talking about the same last 15 minutes? This film is built up WAY too much about how crazy the last scene is. It’s child’s play compared to the entire duration of I Saw the Devil. The camera work doesn’t even show most of what is happening. *SPOILERS**** We see her stick needles in his belly and sever off a head and a foot, both of which scenes cut away very quickly afterwords. The non ending is very much that. I’d agree with a lot of your review, but I’d spend MUCH more time on how poor the complaints you had were, because it sure wasn’t as graphic as you made it sound. I did go into it blind and was frustrated with the whole thing the whole time. Was it a dream or was it real? First it’s real, then it’s a dream, then it’s real again, then who fucking knows whats real or a dream.

  8. May 15, 2013 8:53 am

    Really? You’re comparing this to Saw? I’ve seen all of them & that’s all those movies are, just gore. The acting sucks, the dialogue is even shittier. If you actually take the time to watch the movie, it pulls you in & you actually feel like you’re watching these people’s lives. that’s where it gets its shock value at the end. These are normal, decent human beings going about their lives working, looking for love & companionship etc. etc. just like anyone else, & then BAM! The universe decides to stick a dick in this family’s metaphorical poop shoot & throw them a rape ball. I mean I felt something for that guy, when he was on the ground watching his son, I was with him. I wanted to tell his son to get a knife & stab that crazy bitch & save his dad, but alas he can’t hear me. But I digress. With Saw movies you get all the gore & blood you want. Sure, but when each so-called actor dies, I just go,”Oh look another one down 7 more to go. Too bad…she was hot, but at least I don’t have to watch her act anymore!”.

    • May 15, 2013 9:01 am

      Oh I totally agree with you, it’s apples and oranges. The Saw movies have nothing on Audition. To be honest, it’s been forever since I wrote this review and this is all coming as news really. I was much younger then, apologies if the initial comparison came off more like apples to apples. But what in the what was all that about poop shoots and rape balls, yo? I don’t remember that going down!


  1. Audition « HORRORPEDIA

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