Takashi Miike’s gonzo revenge fantasy (and feminist battle cry) introduced the madman of subversive Japanese cinema to a wider Western audience thanks to its run in a handful of arthouse theaters brave enough to show it; even the most hardcore horror/torture/whatever fans found this one a little hard to stomach (including the likes of postmodern grand guignol maestros Eli Roth and Rob Zombie), with one enraged female viewer at the 2000 Rotterdam Film Festival even screaming “You’re evil!” right in Miike’s face. You’re pretty intrigued now, aren’t you? Audition tells the story of a middle-aged widower (Ryo Ishibashi) who’s encouraged by his teenage son to start dating again; his film producer friend (Jun Kunimura) trumps his initial reluctance with a mock casting session in which young women audition for the “part” of his new wife. You can imagine the kind of weirdos such an endeavor would attract — but you’ve never imagined anyone like Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina), a supposed former ballerina who turns the widower’s life upside down (and inside out, if you catch our drift). Don’t let the melancholy yet charming tone of the first act fool you; Audition soon transforms before your very eyes into one of the most bizarre, gruesome and over-the-top freak shows you’ll ever dare to witness. And dare you most certainly should.
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