Audition is Takashi Miike's 1999 horror film. It is still a gripping film after 23 years. So, gripping that I still have nightmares from what occurs during the last twenty minutes of the film. Rather grotesque in nature but much deserved, I think. Some men really should be minding their own business.
Audition follows Aoyama, a widower whose son Shigehiko says that he should find a new wife seven years after the death of his wife. He brings up this idea to his friend, Yasuhisa Yoshikawa, a film producer, at a bar late at night. He devises a mock casting audition at which young women audition for the "part" of Aoyama's new wife. They pick 30 women to "audition". Aoyama takes a liking to Asami and reads the essay given by these women for the role. He derives some pleasure from seeing her innermost thoughts, kind of like a Peeping Tom. You could regard this as the first moment of non-consensual action that takes place in the film.
As Aoyama spends more time with Asami, he's convinced that she is the right woman for him since this whole thing was a search for his new wife. You come to learn that Asami and her references all lead to a dead end. The shop where she works has been abandoned for a year, the previous owner, was brutally murdered, and her dance studio was being occupied by a man in a prosthetic leg. To sum it up, Asami lives like a ghost because that is what she is. A wish fulfilled by the men that surround her. In recent trends with movies like Promising Young Woman and Gone Girl, the violence done to these particular women informs the path to which they would intact revenge. Hurt people hurt people. Often in society, the men who commit these heinous acts are never truly punished for their crimes, and if they are it's hard to see how the punishment and crime are equal. Asami in her own way is Gone Girling the men in her life that make her feel as though she lives for them. Aoyama isn't interested in the real Asami, just the one he's built in his head.
Rayne Fisher wrote an article "The Pain Gap", and I found myself rereading this line within her essay "men will often tell you they wished you were more mature, but this is a lie so thinly veiled that I doubt even they believe it. They crave your immaturity, your smallness, the ease with which you are controlled. They desperately want you to smile a little and say you've never given a bl*wjob before — they want this so, so badly, and they keep wanting it right up until the moment when they start wanting a bl*wjob instead". Aoyama could have just as easily gotten together with an age-appropriate woman but he purposefully seeks out a younger woman. Is Audition feminist? I don't think so... maybe it's accidentally feminist. I don't think Miike intended on making a feminist film but he intended on making horror and he did a great one.
The impact of the violence in the last twenty minutes of 1999's Audition only hits because of the contrast of the first half of the film being romantic and calm. Asami then punishes men for their treatment of her and woman in general. Miike explains this by intercutting flashbacks of the horrors done to her by men. Does he mean to excuse her behaviour? I'm not sure. The end of the film weaves in and out of nightmare and dream. You the viewer might struggle to understand if it's all in Aoyama's head. That's ultimately for you to figure out.
Audition should be on everyone's list of Greatest Horror Films. So I urge you to give it a watch. Maybe watch the last twenty minutes with your hands in front of your eyes.