Some of you might describe Audition as torture porn. And, as I plainly stated in my opening paragraphs, I’m no fan of the sub-genre. But while Audition does share some cinematic traits with torture porn - namely, scenes depicting ample amounts of brutal torture - it also has complexity, emotional depth, and an unrepentant sadness at its core.
In movies like, for example, Hostel, I felt as though I was simply watching director Eli Roth kill a bunch of people in various ways for the hell of it and nothing more. The characters, the story, and the filmmaking were all beside the point. Indeed, they seemed only to get in the way of the torture itself, which was, I guess, supposed to be…enjoyable? Or something?
Audition, on the other hand, is really just the sad, sad story of a girl who was terribly abused as a child and thusly turned into a monster. It’s also the sad, sad story of a widower who wants to fall in love again, who wants to move beyond the death of his beloved wife, seven years on. Unfortunately, the girl he chooses to move on with is that monster, and that monster doesn’t like the idea of her beloved loving anyone but herself. Say goodbye to your feet, buddy.
Director Takashi Miike creates some gruesome, hard-to-watch scenes, but he does it, as always, with style. What makes this so much more horrifying to watch than some of his other works - Dead or Alive, Ichi the Killer, et cetera - is how subtle it is with regard to the horrors it presents to us. With Itchi, everything is over-the-top and hard to take too seriously. With Audition, everything feels so real that it’s impossible not to take seriously. I dare you to try.