The Curator of Schlock #371 by Jeff Shuster
There’s nothing more terrifying than a pretty woman.
Edwige and I barely made it of Mooseville, a small town in Saskatchewan. I was commissioned by a trucker named Big Tom to drop off equipment for a Salmon Salad canning factory, but that was back in late March and I got sidetracked on my journey. Taking five months to get there was too little, too late. Deadlines weren’t met, the factory went under, and all hope was lost. The town of Mooseville needed someone to blame and I did not receive the hero’s welcome I was expecting. More news on that next week.
Tonight’s Arrow Home video release is 1999’s Audition from director Takashi Miike. I’ve been avoiding this one for quite some time now, mainly because of its reputation. I knew this flick would make me squirm, but no one ever said being a Curator of Schlock didn’t take courage. This is a creepy one, folks. I haven’t been this terrified since Gone Girl.
The movie begins with a man named Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) losing his wife to cancer, leaving him to raise their young son, Shigehiko, on his own. Sad as that was, Aoyama manages to raise Shigehiko into a well-adjusted young adult. Still, everyone keeps telling Aoyama that he should marry again. And after being told this enough times, Aoyama starts to warm to the idea of marrying again.
Aoyama’s friend, Yasuhisa Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura), comes up with the idea for a new movie where one lucky young woman will get to play the role of Aoyama’s wife. Aoyama was looking for a more mature woman to settle down with, but Yoshikawa insists that this is just for fun and that the young woman who wins the audition won’t really marry him. A casting call is put out for all the young women in Japan to be “tomorrow’s heroine.” One of them can be the next Audrey Hepburn or Penelope Ann Miller.
Aoyama gets the privilege of screening the submissions to get the contestants down to an even thirty. One of these contestants catches his eye, a young woman named Asami (Eihi Shiina) who gave up a career in ballet due to hip injury. Later, Yoshikawa and Aoyama interview the contestants, Yoshikawa asking all kinds of probing questions while Aoyama impatiently waits for Asami’s turn. When Asami does show up, Aoyama is instantly smitten by the shy, young woman. He conflates how she felt about losing her ballet career with how he felt about losing his wife.
Yoshikawa has a bad feeling about Asami. He can’t put his finger on what’s wrong with her, but he tells Aoyama to stay away. Naturally, Aoyama asks Asami if she’d like to meet up sometime. She answers the phone and agrees. I think it’s in this scene that we see a large burlap sack in the background that starts moving as the victim inside struggles. Asami smiles, and I get the feeling Aoyama’s torture will begin soon enough. BBC film critic Mark Kermode once stated that he went into Audition thinking it was going to be some romantic comedy. By the end of the movie, he was hiding behind his theater seat. As for me, Audition might be the best movie I’ve seen all year. It’s terrifying. Good terrifying.
Jeff Shuster (episode 47, episode 102, episode 124, episode 131, episode 284, episode 441, episode 442, episode 443, episode 444, episode 450, and 477) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.