Of all the holidays celebrated worldwide, no single day is loved by the Substream staff more than Halloween. With October’s arrival, the time has finally come to begin rolling out a slew of special features we have prepared in celebration of our favorite day.
31 Days Of Halloween is a recurring column that will run throughout the month of October. The goal of this series is to supply every Substream reader with a daily horror (or Halloween-themed) movie recommendation that is guaranteed to amplify your All Hallows’ Eve festivities. We’ll be watching every film the day it’s featured, and we hope you will follow along at home. Reader, beware, you’re in for a… spooky good time!
Day 25: Audition (1999)
Within the horror genre, as with any major genres of film, there exists sub-genres that focus on different themes in order to create a different effect. Generally speaking, slasher films will have you scared to venture around any shady places or abandoned locations (as if there’s ever a good time for that), supernatural horror will have you on edge for anything that goes bump in the night, and psychological horrors build on to the paranoia to create a very real and plausible string of events.
In regards to Takashi Miike’s film Audition, the atmosphere is set up in a manner most similar to the latter sub genres. The film is classified as Japanese horror (J-horror), which tends to focus on more psychological components, whether that be in a conventional or non-conventional way. Audition, once again, leans toward the latter of the two, toeing the line between psychological horror and horror drama in a generally unconventional way.
In a nutshell, our protagonist Shigeharu Aoyama loses his wife to terminal illness. While spending years moving on with life after the loss of his wife, Aoyama’s son convinces his dad to look toward dating again to eventually remarry. Aoyama, already being involved within the film industry, decides to hold a fictitious audition under the persuasion of his co-worker Yasuhisa Yoshikawa to search for a suitable new wife. What Aoyama gets in return is an attractive younger woman he feels very drawn to and a string of events incredibly difficult to see coming.
Going back to the setup of psychological horror, the film does an excellent job of building tension and suspense with very logical and plausible scenarios. The tension starts very subtle: his selection (Asami Yamazaki) lists references that don’t check out, she’s never seen at the bar at which she claims to work, and Aoyama never fully knows where she lives. As events begin to escalate, what’s even more troubling is that Yamazaki knows exactly where Aoyama lives, as viewers begin to see exactly what kind of person Yamazaki really is.
From the beginning of the film, the tone is set as a primarily male-dominated culture, with the audition serving as an objectification of women. Aoyama even lists one of his criteria for a future mate as someone who is “obedient.” However, tension is developed beautifully throughout the film to create an atmosphere totally flipped on its side compared to the first half. Yamazaki, who gets portrayed as the victim in the first half, slowly develops into the antagonist as events unfold. The end result is a string events that will leave you on the edge of your seat and a conclusion that is arguably one of the hardest to sit through when it comes to horror films.