Audition Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Arrow Video

Directed by Takashi Miike
Written by Daisuke Tengan, based on the novel by Ryû Murakami
1999, 115 minutes, Rated R
Released on February 12th, 2019

Ryo Ishibashi as Shigeharu Aoyama
Elhi Shiina as Asami Yamazaki
Tetsu Sawaki as Shigehiko Aoyama
Jun Kunimura as Yasuhisa Yoshikawa



It has been seven years since Shigeharu Aoyama became a widower and during that time he has buried himself in work. His teenage son urges him to find a new bride before he gets too old. Reluctantly, he agrees to once again enter the dating circuit. Unsure of how best to proceed, he talks to a friend who helps come up with a plan. Together they will hold auditions for a faux movie production so that Shigeharu can meet a large number of potential dates. He pores over countless head shots and resumes looking for a mature woman with discipline and talent. One lady catches his eye, though, a quiet 24-year-old named Asami, who studied to be a ballerina. Her essay is thoughtful and endearing and he cannot wait to meet her.

The auditions are held and Asami proves to be everything he could hope for and more. He contacts her and takes her out to dinner. They soon spark a relationship that delivers the happiness he longed for. Shigeharu’s friend is a bit wary of the situation, as he has done a background check on Asami and is left with more questions than answers. He doesn’t trust her and advises Shigeharu to tread lightly. The warnings fall on deaf ears and their courtship continues to flourish. It should come as no surprise to genre fans that there is indeed something amiss about Asami, but Shigeharu has loving eyes and can see no wrong. This proves to be a dangerous delusion that may cost him dearly.

Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer) is one of Japan’s most prolific directors with more than one hundred titles to his career. There was a time when he was averaging five movies a year! He is a true auteur who has proven himself as an international talent working in every genre from musical comedy to western to high-stakes action. It is his work in the horror genre that introduced him to overseas audiences with the widely acclaimed Audition (1999). This is a dark and twisted love story that plays as a romance for the first hour before dropping the hammer on unsuspecting viewers. The horrors within are carefully crafted and well-timed to achieve maximum effect. Miike sets up his story in a deliberate manner that begins with a simple premise of a man looking for love. What follows is a harrowing tale that punches you in the stomach with its grim twists and dark revelations.


The breakout star in the picture is Elhi Shiina (Tokyo Gore Police) as Asami, the perfect woman with a dark secret. We get brief glimpses of Asami’s home life in the early stages of the relationship and at first she comes off as merely needy. With a single discovery we understand that she has far more going on than we’ve been led to believe. She has the face of an angel and a quiet demeanor, but there is something hiding behind this delicate façade. The question becomes what are her intentions and how is she going to go about achieving them?

Audition is a macabre cautionary tale of love and loneliness. Takashi Miike crafts a suspenseful tale with a slow-burn release into gripping terror. He toys with the traditional method of storytelling by employing a healthy dose of flashbacks, dream sequences and ghostly imagery that will keep audiences deeply engrossed until the horrifying conclusion. It is easy to recommend this title to genre fans, but casual viewers will need a warning that things get pretty rough by the end. Miike refuses to be pigeon-holed as any one kind of director and continues to work across multiple genres. He is definitely someone whose work you should be familiar with and if you’re not, with so many titles under his belt, fans will have little trouble spending time with him, although not many of his pictures make great date movies!


Video and Audio:

Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the picture has been given a 2K restoration of the original film elements and looks terrific. Colors are strong, black levels are solid and flesh tones appear natural throughout.

The Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix offers some distinct separation in sound effects. Music cues are well-balanced with dialogue levels and are never intrusive.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.


Special Features:

A humble Takashi Miike offers a brief introduction to the picture and is appreciative to its audience.

The director has recorded an audio commentary with screenwriter Daisuke Tengan in Japanese with English subtitles. The track is filled with information and moves at a steady pace and is a welcome addition to this release.

A commentary by Miike biographer Tom Mes examines the movie and its source novel. He provides additional production anecdotes and studies how the picture fits into the director’s filmography.

In the 2016 interview Ties That Bind (30 minutes), Miike discusses many aspects of the film including adapting the source novel, working with the cast and audience reaction to the picture upon release.

Japanese cinema historian Tony Rayns offers an appreciation of the picture in the featurette Damaged Romance (35 minutes). The segment is thorough and informative, covering quite a bit of ground.

A quartet of cast interviews has been included, featuring Ryo Ishibashi in the segment Tokyo – Hollywood (16 minutes); Eihi Shinna in From Audition to Vampire Girl (20 minutes); Renji Ishibashi in Miike’s Toy (21 minutes); and finally, The Man in the Bag Speaks (16 minutes) offers Ren Osugi the opportunity to discuss his small yet pivotal role in the film. The actors all reflect on their time working on the picture and share their appreciation of Miike.

A pair of theatrical trailers has been included.


Movie: Cover
Overall: 4 Star Rating

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Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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