Perhaps the most innocuous
box on your video store shelves right now is holding an extremely
nasty surprise. And no, I'm not talking about that copy of the
Garfield movie, though that was pretty nasty. I'm talking about
"Audition", and when you actually slap this sucker into
your player, you'd better brace yourself, because you are about
to go on a two-hour hell ride that won't stop until the movie
would have actually been a "Married...With Children"
plot in a twisted, nightmarish, Japanese version of Fox. Let me
lay it out for you...basically, once, a good while back, Peg and
Kelly got in a big fiery accident and died. For a while, Al was
very happy, and Bud was just horny. As usual. But Al, being a
shoe salesman, and nothing much else despite having lost the albatross
around his neck that was Peg, couldn't find a replacement wife.
So Bud and Jefferson (who apparently finally did away with Marcy
and became a film producter) concoct a scheme--have Al pretend
to be a producer (to match the fake license plate saying the same
he had back in Route 666, part 1) and hold open auditions for
a nonexistant movie part. Naturally, it works for the first fifteen
minutes or so, and a string of beautiful women show up. Eventually,
Al finds a new Peg-to-be--this time a ballerina with a suspicious
past. And eventually, the intended Peg Mark Two finds out about
the con and proceeds to go completely and spectacularly bughouse,
in a fashion that's as positively nightmarish as it is blood-soaked.
For a two hour special
episode of "Married...With Children", it sure beats
holy hell out of Lower Uncton, doesn't it??
Sure, I'm being facetious--very
few people, including our male lead from "Audition",
would react to the loss of their wife that way, there was no Kelly
involved here, and you would have never seen this much blood in
the Bundy house. But the concepts are remarkably similar, and
there's really no better parallel I can draw.
But this doesn't detract
from the rest of the movie in the least. In fact, I barely even
noticed that the first fifteen minutes had gone past. That was
the level of storytelling skill we're dealing with here--when
you don't even notice time going by, at any rate, fast or slow,
you've got a good movie on your hands. But there were a few sequences
I just wanted to get the fast forward going and read the subtitles,
especially during the auditions themselves. I won't deny it was
a bit dull to just watch a bunch of girls talk in a chair.
Twenty four minutes
one second, however, your patience will be abundantly rewarded.
It's also impressive
how things start going wrong. The Japanese movies' classical virtue
of patience is very well served here--the audience only sees very
small problems start to crop up at any given time, and this allows
the tension to build at almost a glacial rate. You get almost
halfway through the movie (about forty minutes in) before you
even begin to realize there may be a problem with our hip-damaged
ballerina. It takes about a half hour to get to the point where
anyone even suspects a problem, and forty minutes to get to the
point where the problem is even concrete. While the tension builds
slowly, it also builds irrevokably. Like a glacier plunging down
from out of nowhere, it rumbles through, slowly, and utterly unstoppably.
The ending is the most
unsettling sequence of torture I've seen in a good long time.
The woman actually puts down a drop cloth, and then grabs a handful
of needles. Then there's the wire saw. And if you can believe
it, it actually gets worse from there. The whole last half hour
is where true creepy really begins. An incredibly hallucinatory
sequences of people, places, events, all unfolds at a mind-shattering
pace, and shows us just what's really going on with the damaged
ballerina. Ten solid minutes of frantic hallucination.
I'm now quite convinced
how Takashi Miike managed to not get shown on "Masters of
Horror". This is the kind of stuff he can come up with. If
he put half of this sheer unsettling into whatever he did (and
we'll find out soon enough--it's going to video in short order),
then man, it'll be the worst thing they've ever had.
The special features
an introduction from Takashi Miike, commentary, an interview with
Takashi Miike, the segment of "Audition" from Bravo's
"One Hundred Scariest Movie Moments", an interview with
Ryu Murakami, and trailers for "The Eye 2", "Premonition",
"Infection", "Ju-On: The Grudge", "American
Psycho", and "Waiting".
All in all, "Audition"
is like a package at a child's birthday party that contains a
small explosive device packed with nails and rigged to explode
on opening. It's a thoroughly deadly and astonishingly frightening
package in an innocent casing. And it's very much worth your time
by Takashi Miike
Written by Daisuke Tengan
Starring Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki, Jun Kunimura
Produced by Akemi Suyama, Satoshi Fukushima
out the Video Store Guy on his own ever-lovin' website.
Featuring never before seen pieces exclusive to Reel Advice! (reel.panel2panel.com)