APRIL 19, 2008
Since I believe the day I was born, people have been telling me to watch Audition (aka Ôdishon), saying "You'll love it!", "It's the most fucked up movie ever!" and things along those lines. What no one DID tell me is that it is in fact an incredibly boring movie, one that's not very well-filmed to boot, with all of the horror confined to a 10 minute chunk near the end of the film (save for a random shot of a bag throwing itself across the room about halfway through).
Afterwards I was told that that was the point of the movie - to lull you into boredom so that the torture stuff was all the more shocking and hard to watch. Well, fine, but that's not a movie. That's an exercise. Maybe it would work in 1999, on an audience who didn't even know it was a horror movie, but a movie that can only work under very specific circumstances isn't something I can particularly recommend, even if I HAD watched it under said circumstances. You know, Memento hinges on a gimmick as well, but it's still a well-crafted, highly enjoyable film to watch a 2nd or 3rd time.
And this isn't a complaint, but more of a warning to anyone who hasn't seen it yet and feels compelled to do so after reading this review: the torture really ain't all that disturbing. She cuts off his foot and sticks a few needles in his body (and eyes - the most cringe-worthy part of the entire sequence is when she "flicks" the needles protruding from his ocular region), and that's about it. Her frequent repeating of "Kittykittykitty" (misspelled Japanese for "Deeper, deeper") is more chilling than anything she's actually doing, and a decade later, it's almost kind of funny that the film had to be cut for an R rating; the stuff in the R-rated Saw films is far more graphic and disturbing. So if you're looking to be TRULY disturbed, you probably won't find it here if you've kept up with your modern "torture porn".
One thing I did like is how they filled in back-story via a hallucination that the main guy suffers as he is passing out from a drugged drink. It's one of those "is this real or completely imagined" type sequences, and it's probably the highlight of the film. More stuff like that and the film would have been great, but since it's more or less an experimental piece, it would nullify his attempt.
I'm glad the movie has its fans, and I do wish I could go back and watch it completely un-prepared for what I was about to see. But I can't say that even then I'd be particularly amazed by it, because intentional or not, the fact remains that 95% of the movie is lifeless and dull (and since it's not in English, I don't even have the option of "just listening" to it while I work on a Sudoku or something). I didn't see Psycho until the mid 90s; I didn't see Exorcist until 2000 (thankfully, it was the original version, not the 2000 "Version You Wish You Never Saw" or whatever the fuck it was called), etc., and I was still able to enjoy those films immensely, despite the "outdated" feel of certain sequences and the fact that I had already seen the dozens of movies that ripped those films off in subsequent years. And in Psycho's case, the comparison is incredibly apt, as the big "thrill" of that film for a first time audience was seeing its heroine killed 1/3 of the way through - something I already knew! But it still worked, because the performances, the technical aspects, the story, etc. were almost or just as compelling. That's how you do it!
I've only seen one other Miike film - his Masters of Horror (Imprint), which I really liked, due to Billy Drago's insane performance, the truly upsetting imagery (fetuses + river = ew), and the fact that it was half as long as Audition. Knowing that, which of his movies would you, dear reader, think I might enjoy? I assume not all of his films are the equivalent of an inverse pop quiz.
What say you?