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Audition

Year: 1999
Production Co: AFDF
Director: Takashi Miike
I was prepared for an absolutely horrific time cringing in disgust and terror throughout this whole film after seeing Iichi the Killer first, and until an hour in I thought I was watching a Japanese Merchant Ivory film.

But that's Miike's intention - lull you in to the biggest sense of security in movie history before not so much as tearing the rug from under you but running in to club you over the head with a steel pipe and set fire to you as well.

Lonely widower Aoyama has a friend who works in TV, and together they hatch a scheme to find him a wife through a fake audition for a TV show that doesn't exist, in reality giving Aoyama the chance to assess the actresses who come in for their suitability as potential wives.

He falls head over heels in love with the child-like and enigmatic Asami, and after pursuing and losing her becomes determined to find her, despite the crazy old man in her old dance studio giving him a warning the audience feels increasingly like he should follow.

Sweetness and romance become slightly menacing and then turns on a dime to full-fledged torture porn when Asami next appears. After breaking into the house where Aoyama lives with his teenaged son, she spikes his favourite spirit, leaving him immobile on the floor before coming in to the room looking every bit the fantasy manga doll with tight nurses costume and huge syringe. What happens next however is anything but fantasy.

The films is strange thematically - you're watching one of the masters of Japanese horror spin out this quiet little love story for so long only for a ten minute payoff of the sort you expect of him, but as a device to talk about horror coming from the unlikeliest of quarters, it's quite whole.

Not as thoroughly disgusting as Iichi - by then maybe Miike's cover was blown to western audiences.

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