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Arrow Video’s ‘Audition’ Blu-Ray Release Goes Deeper, Deeper, Deeper

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Audition

It’s been over a decade since my first viewing experience of Takashi Miike’s Audition. I remember watching this one during a time when I was beginning to break away from more traditional mainstream horror and was delighted and horrified with the result. Audition was and remains a treat all these years later, and holds a certain moral and prevalent juxtaposition alongside the current state of sexual politics.

Audition centers around Aoyama, (Ryo Ishibashi) a lonely soul who recently lost his wife to illness, and is left to take care of his teenage son. When he has all but given up on love, his friend comes up with the idea of holding a fake film casting audition in order to help his socially secluded friend find love once again.

During the audition, Aoyama is entirely taken with the timid and beautiful, Asami (Eihi Shiina). What starts off as a heartwarming setup for something out of the When Harry Met Sally playbook, ends up spiraling into all-out twisting, atmospheric dread. This all comes to head with one of the genre’s most memorable endings.

Miike is methodical with the his bizarre pacing for Audition. What begins as an endearing setup for a barebones love story for the first 45 minutes, is completely rocked into a total violent creep fest with an electric jolt.

This occurs when Aoyama innocently decides to call Asami back for the first time. In the scene, the lovesick Aoyama nervously paces back and forth with schoolboy sensibilities before finally making his phone call. The film then cuts to Asami sitting on her knees leaning forward in a desolate apartment looking at a black rotary phone. You see a smile creeps across her face through her draped black hair  and you get your first look at a large burlap sack sitting in the corner.

From there this movie takes you for the full Miike experience. This includes horror, dream logic and dangerous visuals. A tightly wound nightmare of a film that holds up entirely.

Arrow Video does a fantastic job with this long-treasured, cult release. Complete with a brand new interview with Takashi Miike and an awkwardly perfect intro by Miike sitting timidly in an audition chair are all must see features for initiated fans.

 Complete features include:

  • Brand new 2K restoration of original vault elements
  • Original 5.1 Dolby Surround Audio
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Audio commentary with director Takashi Miike and screenwriter Daisuke Tengan
  • Brand new commentary by Miike biographer Tom Mes examining the film and its source novel
  • Introduction by Miike
  • Ties that Bind – A brand new interview with Takashi Miike
  • Interviews with stars Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Renji Ishibashi and Ren Osugi
  • Damaged Romance: An appreciation by Japanese cinema historian Tony Rayns
  • Trailers
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Anton Bitel.
  • Audition is a pitch perfect genre ride and Arrow does a fantastic job of reaffirming that. All of You Audition initiated fans out there owe it to Miike to find a friend who hasn’t seen this yet and demand they have a watch.

Arrow Video’s stellar Audition blu-ray is out now and can be found here.

Movie Reviews

[Fantastic Fest] ‘Piggy’ Filled With Incredible Heart and Wonderful Terror

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Piggy

Writer and director, Carlota Pereda fascinatingly creates a world in which we are given equal helpings of moments of big heart and a creeping terror. Piggy is one of those rare horror films that could have stood on its own without the horror and been an Oscar-worthy bit of effective drama. The turn from compelling drama to shifting genre is as refreshing as it is entertaining.

Piggy follows Sara (Laura Galán) a young girl who assists her family in their small-town butcher shop. Sara is often bullied due to her being an overweight teen. The small town and its cliques make for a soul-crushing daily life for Sara. She is constantly picked on, called names and even physically tormented by the popular bullies. When Sara ends up having to walk home following an assault by the bullies, Sara comes face to face with a serial killer who actually treats the young girl as an equal – not picking on her or poking fun. The duo begins their strange cat and mouse dance of constantly changing twisted mutual admiration.

The small quaint town featured in Piggy is very minimalistic – matching the incredibly stripped-down, heart-on-its-sleeve story. That atmosphere is one that makes for a brilliant spot to match Sara and her sensitive nature.

Galán is breathtaking in her role as Sara. It’s an incredibly demanding and revealing role that constantly has her being abused both physically and mentally. The constant emotional terrorism surrounding her combined with body shaming becomes a terrifying small-town presence that ends up being more terrifying and warped than the habits of the serial killer.

Much like Sara herself, the film forces you to side with the serial killer. Despite, his cold-blooded actions against the people of the town, he still has a big enough heart to see Sara as an equal and someone who he even fancies at times. In any other situation its heartbreaking to realize that he and Sara could have easily been in a relationship if it hadn’t been for that whole serial killing thing.

Piggy

Piggy handles bullying and body shaming by shifting the tables and working the story with as much humor and fun as it works with serious themes. Incredibly, the serial killer isn’t as disturbing as the torment that Sara receives. The juxtaposition between those two things is an incredibly compelling exploration for film.

The film allows you to side with the killer and entirely has you cheering for Sara. Galán gives a breathtaking performance that will have audiences siding with her and willing to follow her down whichever path she chooses to take. Piggy is an incredible work that has as much heart and nerves as it does horror.

Piggy arrives in Alamo Drafthouses on October 7 and in theaters and On Demand beginning October 14. The film also won best horror film at Fantastic Fest.

4 eyes out of 5

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‘Bones and All’ Trailer Introduces Savage World of Cannibals and Lovers

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Bones

Call Me By Your Name and Suspiria director, Luca Guadagnino is back with a true masterpiece that explores cannibals and lovers. Bones and All is a fascinating film that currently has my vote for Best Film of the Year. It really is that good. It stars Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell in an incredibly brutal road trip film.

The official synopsis fo Bones and All goes like this:

BONES AND ALL is a story of first love between Maren, a young woman learning how to survive on the margins of society, and Lee, an intense and disenfranchised drifter; a liberating road odyssey of two young people coming into their own, searching for identity and chasing beauty in a perilous world that cannot abide who they are.

The film stars Taylor Russell, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, André Holland, Chloë Sevigny, David Gordon Green, Jessica Harper, Jake Horowitz, and Mark Rylance.

Get ready to dine with cannibals and lovely monsters when Bones and All arrives in theaters beginning November 23.

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[Fantastic Fest] ‘Hellraiser’ Fascinates by Carving New Damnation and Games

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Hellraiser

In a world of reinvention and retooling, there are often a lot of letdowns when it comes to our favorite films and TV shows. More often than not we are disappointed by the retelling. It is great to announce that David Bruckner’s recent Hellraiser reimagining is incredible and makes use of Author, Clive Barker’s original parts to incredibly give us the familiar while also carving its entirely own fascinatingly dark path.

Hellraiser tells the story of Riley (Odessa A’Zion,) an addict trying to live her life and resist all temptation. When Riley and her boyfriend burglarize a shipping container, they come upon the puzzle box. The box immediately begins to draw attention to it begging them to push and pull its corners. Little do they know that the box’s offerings will change their lives forever.

Hellraiser

The backdrop of Hellraiser is a dreary one. It is entirely filled with a sheen of darkness and grime throughout. The entire city and places the characters visit all become participating characters in the film itself. An amazing work of production design around every corner.

Director, Bruckner is commanding with the darkness. He is careful to control Barker’s bleakness and is great at it. Between himself and screenwriters Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski the trio actively and effectively manage to solve their own puzzle box of the macabre and the constantly invigorating.

The Cenobites are back with a fully new roaster of incredibly creative beings. Each of them has a patchwork of skin in which flesh itself is what they wear. There aren’t any more bits of leather clothing that brought the legendary, Doug Bradley to life, instead, their wardrobe is made organically. Another fascinating detail of their look is brought about by these carefully placed pins with pearl tips. A touch of The Hellpriest’s personal touch.

The Hellpriest just as revelatory as the film. Jamie Clayton pays homage to and simultaneously reinvents The Priest from the ground up. A head full of pearl-tipped pins along with the fascinating touches from The Leviathan that add pieces of the box to her as well as the same creative organic wardrobe utilized by the other Cenobites. Horror fans have nothing but a brilliant experience ahead of them. Clayton makes the role her own and brilliantly creates her own spine-tingling voice for the character. A terrifying rasp, that is delivered with authority making her lines stand out with imposing importance.

Hellraiser

Ben Lovett creates a brilliant score that moves and shifts around as much as the puzzle box itself. Throughout it is entirely its own with tiny shifts to single notes of the famous Christopher Young score. The entire thing is devilishly done and creates an entire audio Cenobite all on its own. By the film’s finale, Lovett and Young become one in a chill-inducing crescendo.

Hellraiser is a fascinatingly dark work that combines Barker’s worlds and sensibilities into a brilliant haunting cocktail. There are hints of Damnation Game, Weaveworld and of course The Hellbound Heart. The hands shifting this puzzle box were tender and caring with Barker’s material. That reverence produces one of the best Hellraiser’s to date. Bruckner’s film gets back to diving beneath the flesh of terror. Jamie Clayton entirely lives in and reinvents The Hellpriest in every turn. Hellraiser brilliantly cuts, carves and pulls nerves. Dark, provocative, and filled with Clive Barker’s brilliance – Hellraiser is finally back.

4 eyes out of 5

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