Oct. 9: Audition (1999)
Ask someone if they know who Takashi Miike is, and you'92ll either get a totally blank look or their face will light up, and they'92ll talk your ear off. Miike is a Japanese horror master who is known for having an insane work ethic (he puts out up to six movies a year, though he retains a surprisingly high level of quality) and even more insane movies. He has gangster movies and comedies and musicals, even a western, but Miike'92s films all end up seeming a little like horror, with their often extreme violence and subject matter.
Miike'92s international breakthrough, though, was this film, a relatively restrained (at least for him) film that doesn'92t even seem like a horror film until about halfway through, when it makes a decidedly shocking twist. If people somehow came into the film completely ignorant, they would spend the first 45 minutes thinking they'92re watching just a drama.
Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is a widower who has spent the last several years taking care of his son, but still hasn'92t moved on to another woman. A friend of Aoyama'92s who is a film producer suggests holding auditions for a fake movie so he can look over a pool of prospective candidates without any pressure. Aoyama reluctantly agrees, and at the audition he becomes enthralled with one girl in particular, Asami (Eihi Shiina). Unfortunately, first impressions can be deceiving.
Miike shoots the film elegantly, giving us complex characters we care about, which makes things so much worse when the bad things start to happen.
It would be criminal to spoil anything further, but Audition will frighten you, horrify you and occasionally sicken you, and if you ever hear the words '93kiri kiri kiri'94 you will run screaming. And you'92ll never look at a burlap sack the same way again.
If you liked this, then check out:
'97'a0'a0'a0 The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001): More Miike, this time a truly bizarre musical ('93Ow, my uvula!'94) that sometimes feels like a kids'92 movie, but contains claymation, a sumo wrestler and a volcano to go along with all the singing, yet still feels like a horror film. The titular family opens a cozy little inn in the mountains, but when their first guest ends up dead, they cover it up to keep from ruining business. Unfortunately for them, all their subsequent guests keep ending up dead, too.
'97'a0'a0'a0 Cure (1997): Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (no relation to Akira) makes bizarre, ambiguous, haunting horror films, none better than this story of a string of murders that may have been committed by a man hypnotized to do so. This one will stay with you.
'97'a0'a0'a0 Ringu (1998): The genre known as J-horror became very popular for a few years, and it owes it all to this, the incredibly creepy tale of the haunted videotape that kills you one week after you watch it. Made before dripping water and evil little girls with sheets of black hair were a genre staple, this flick will chill you to the bone, and it'92s far superior to the American remake, even if it has far less Naomi Watts. 'a0