Thursday, October 27, 2005

31 Days of Des' Horror Favourites: #5 Audition

Why I like it: A few years ago I was overcome with an intense love for Japanese horror (or J-Horror as the geeks call it). I ate it with a spoon worshipping Hideo Nakata and lamenting the poor state of Western horror. It was great until I hit the wall. I was getting bored: Ju-On, The Ringu series, Dark Water. They are all great movies but there's just something about them that is too similar.

Added with the fact that I don't like ghost stories I began to find even these Japanese cinematic saviors boring. Until I came across 2 words and 5 syllables that would forever change my life: Takashi Miike.

If one were to make one Western comparison to the great Japanese shock directer it would have to be David Lynch for reasons I will leave to personal viewings of one of the films mentioned in this post.

One Miike film in particular grabbed me. It was the first of his that I saw. Audition deals with a middle-aged widower raising his teenage son by himself. Everyone but him seems to think that he needs a woman in his life. When he is finally convinced his friend at a television station cooks up an odd way of meeting women: auditioning them.

It starts out with the premise of an American reality show (don't believe me? check this out) setting the tone for an odd film altogether. It starts out as a romance between an older man and a younger woman (not uncommon in any culture) but is slightly distorted in its morose tone and long, sad stares. You begin to care deeply about the characters in the film so much so that you begin to overlook the strangeness of Asami Yamazaki (played beautifully by Eihi Shiina) and genuinely get into the idea of happiness coming for her and her older lover (played by Ryo Ishibashi).

Once you care enough for her, Miike then shows us in small bites how terrible things actually are for her. I don't want to say much more about this film as I believe it is something every horror fan should watch for themselves.

But the bag, the "tiki tiki tiki" sounds and the needles make this an entiely unforgettable film.

tiki tiki tiki

This better not be remade into an American film. It wouldn't work. The sensibilities of the culture would be way off. I will drink hemlock if Gore Verbinski tries to remake this movie.

Check these out:
-Suicide Club-Ryo Ishibashi stars in another slice of crazy Japanese culture in a film about teenage mass suicide cults.
-The Happiness of the Katakuris-Miike imagines claymation interludes mixed into a film that is itself a mix between a Romero zombie film, a disaster movie and The Sound of Music. Yes...I did just type that. The musical number when the Katakuris find the first body is monumentally, pants-wettingly funny.
-MPD Psycho-Miike directs the Japanese version of Twin Peaks. This six part television series (collected in three vehemently expensive and censored DVDs) has a personality changing detective, people with barcodes tattooed under their eyelids, and a cult hero who is never depicted but has gained a huge cult following herself. I dare type the name Lucy Monostone again as it accounts for 1/3 of my entire keyword search on this blog to date. No lie.
-Ichi the Killer-Think you've seen the most disturbingly violent film ever made? If you haven't seen Miike's "Ichi the Killer" then you certainly have not. Not for the faint of heart.
-Ju-on (The Grudge)-Much better than the American version but probably only for its exclusion of Sarah Michelle Gellar. Scary ghosts for once.
-Dark Water-Slow moving and sad. This ghost story is a must-see for any fan of Japanese horror or ghost films. I haven't seen the remake and that is probably a good thing.
-Ringu-Good. Better than the remake, although not by much.
-Cube-A great Canadian movie with a very Japanese sensibility.

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