Features and Columns · Movies

‘Audition’ and the Subtle, Devastating Art of Genre Misdirection

* sing us a song you’re the piano wire man *
Basara Pictures
By  · Published on August 6th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on how Takashi Miike’s movie Audition manipulates its audience with genre conventions.

Seven years after the death of his wife, Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is hounded by the same, biting question: “when will you re-marry?” His film producer friend, Yasuhisa Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura) devises the perfect pre-Tinder plan: to hold a fake audition for young women to audition for the “part” of Aoyama’s new wife. During the casting call, Auoyama is smitten by Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina). Aoyama doesn’t care that the references on her résumé are “missing” or that she seems to “leave a trail of severed body parts” in her wake. Rushing into a relationship never hurt anybody, right? Right?

It goes without saying that the reputation of the movie Audition proceeds it. Within J-Horror, and even the horror genre more broadly, Audition is known for pushing gruesome boundaries and forcing even the toughest viewer to partially cover their eyes. Make no mistake, that reputation is well-earned.

But Audition is far from the scandalizing fright fest you might expect. As the video essay below details, director Takashi Miike amplifies the film’s horrific impact by dabbling in the cinematic language of decidedly un-horrific genres. Namely: melodrama and comedy. The result is a film as enigmatic and shape-shifting as Asami herself, resulting in a constant game of misdirection between Miike and the viewer.

Fair warning: The following video essay does not include any hard spoilers for Audition. But it does discuss light elements of the film’s plot and over-arching tonal shifts. If you haven’t already, we recommend watching Miike’s film first.

Watch “Audition – How to Manipulate The Audience”:

Who made this?

This video essay on genre expectations in Takashi Miike’s movie Audition is by You Have Been Watching Films. United Kingdom-based writer Oliver Bagshaw produces the channel, creating video essays on an assortment of films, from cult to classic strains of cinema history. You can subscribe to their YouTube channel here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).