Saturday, December 16, 2006


Disturbing movie of the week:


Nothing is what it seems.

People like to set benchmarks. I don’t know why – maybe occasionally they need to redefine a genre so that they have a standard of quality by which to judge everything they see. Maybe they occasionally need to reset the bar at a higher level so that others have a goal to aim for. Maybe they have way too much free time on their hands.

Benchmarks are marked departures from everything that came before and define a new direction for the genre. For example, for the superhero movie, the benchmark is still Batman. For western movies, it’s Once Upon a Time in the West. For sci-fi movies, it seems to be (I shudder) Star Wars. It don’t necessarily have to be the best of its kind, it just defines, for better or worse, a new direction.

AUDITION is the current benchmark for psychological horror movies - it used to be Psycho. Is it as good as Psycho? It’s hard to compare – they’re so different. I will say though that AUDITION is just as effective at being creepy without being grotesque (I don’t recall seeing any actual blood). For the most part, any particular nastiness happens just off camera – for the most part.

It starts off simple enough. A man has been widowed for 11 years and is very lonely. His teenage son suggests that he find a wife – but he’s been out of circulation for a long time and doesn’t know how to meet women, but his friend has a plan. His friend is a film producer and concocts the following scheme. They will announce a open casting call for a fictional movie. When women come to audition, he can interview each one and perhaps find someone he likes. That’s exactly what happens. He is taken with a particularly shy and beautiful woman, and he begins to date her. They hit it off really well ………. except ……….. there are few things about her resume that don’t quite fit, and perhaps he should have left it alone ……….. but ……. he doesn’t.

When I say that this is a psychological horror movie, I don’t mean to put it into the same category as the present day spate of gore fest blood baths currently going through your local multiplex. It seems that they’re all trying to out-shock one another, and while some may have merit in some sense, they are NOT to be confused with the new wave of extreme psychological horror, mostly coming out of Asia. So far, AUDITION is the best of them. I think what makes this film more frightening, more creepy, and more disturbing than much more violent movies, is the pacing. You meet the main characters, they like each other, they’re cute together. Then comes the doubt. You think, “Maybe he’s just imagining things.” You think, “Everybody has something in their past they’d like to keep hidden. Maybe he should just leave well enough alone.” …. But you’re just not ready for what comes later. Oh man!

There are scenes from this film that I just can’t forget because they’ve been permanently etched into my consciousness like a soldering iron in a wood burning kit. I don’t recommend this for everybody. The usual warnings apply.

  1. This is NOT a date flick!
  2. If you do invite a date over to watch this, and they liked it, we at FranksFilms want to meet them.
  3. It takes somewhat of a thick skin to get through this film. Please don’t attempt it unless that describes you.
  4. It’s not really bloody and gross …… er …… It’s not really bloody.
  5. On a creepy scale from 1 to 10, this is a 20.
  6. This is NOT a date flick!
  7. This is not a feel-good film with an uplifting ending that encourages positive social values – wussy.
  8. Oh! I forgot about the bloody bits. Forget about #4.
  9. It has particular relevance if you are out there in the dating world.
  10. I understand that the actress that plays the female lead is a method actor – meaning she wanted everything to be as real during filming as possible. That’s an interesting girl! I wouldn’t want to date her – but I find that fascinating.

I found this movie at the public library – how bad can it be? Moreover, it appears in Steven Jay Schneider’s book, “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.” See?.

Take an AUDITION and enjoy.


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