Note: Audition-1999-poster // Ryu Murakami //
Audition was shot in approximately three weeks, which was about one more week than usual for Miike's films at the time. Scenes such as those in Asami's apartment and at a restaurant were shot on location in a real apartment and a real restaurant. Outdoor scenes were shot in Tokyo, along intersections in Omotesandō.
The torture scene at the end of the film did not initially contain Asami's lines "Kiri-kiri-kiri". Shiina was initially whispering her lines while filming this scene, but after discussion with Miike, the two decided that having her say these lines would make the scene scarier. Ishibashi found that Miike was "having so much fun with that scene", and that Miike was especially excited when Ishibashi's character's feet are cut off. For the special effects where Shiina's character places acupuncture needles into Ishibashi, special effects make-up was used to create a mask layer which was laid upon Ishibashi's eyes, which is then pierced by the needles.
Audition had its world premiere on October 2, 1999 at the Vancouver International Film Festival. The premiere was part of a program of modern Japanese horror films at the festival, including Ring, Ring 2, Shikoku and Gemini. Audition was screened at the 29th Rotterdam International Film Festival in Holland in early 2000 where it was shown as part of a Miike retrospective. Tom Mes stated that Audition received the most attention at Rotterdam, where it won the FIPRESCI Prize for the best film of competition. The FIPRESCI award was given by a jury of international film journalists, who grant this award during the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Only films not in competition qualify for the award. Audition also won the KNF Award, voted by the Circle of Dutch Film journalists.
Audition was released theatrically in Japan on March 3, 2000. It received its American premier at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2000. The film was first screened outside Festivals in the United States in early August 2001. In the United Kingdom, Audition received screenings in 2000 at both FrightFest and the Raindance Film Festival. It was released theatrically in the United Kingdom by Metro Tartan in mid-March 2001. It was Miike's first film to be released theatrically in the United Kingdom.
Home media release
Audition was released on DVD in the United States by Chimera on June 4, 2002. The DVD included an interview with Miike and a documentary on the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles. A new DVD was released by Lionsgate in 2005 dubbed the "uncut special edition". This release included an interview with Ryu Murakami, a selected scene commentary by Miike, and a clip from Bravo's The 100 Scariest Movie Moments. Peter Schorn of IGN gave a negative review of the 2006 DVD, finding that the video was "overcompressed to the point that a distracting, shifting blockiness frequently in backgrounds that draws the eye away from the actors". IGN concluded that the: "overall image quality is soft and fuzzy, with weak black levels, murky shadow areas and less-than-impressive color saturation". On October 6, 2009, Shout! Factory released a DVD and Blu-ray release of the film that featured an introduction by Miike and actress Eihi Shiina, a full audio commentary by Miike and screenwriter Daisuke Tengan, and a documentary featuring the cast.
Audition was released in the United Kingdom on DVD by Tartan Video on June 28, 2004. The disc contained an interview with Miike and liner notes by Joe Cornish. Matthew Leyland (Sight & Sound) reviewed this release, stating that the audio and visual presentation was "exemplary" while noting that the interview with Miike was the only noteworthy bonus feature on the disc. The film was later released by Arrow Video on February 29, 2016. The Arrow Video release was exclusively restored in 2K resolution and was scanned from a 35mm interpositive.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 80%, based on 70 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "An audacious, unsettling Japanese horror film from director Takashi Miike, Audition entertains as both a grisly shocker and a psychological drama". On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 69 out of 100, based on 19 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Ken Eisner (Variety) gave the film a positive review. The reviewer referred to the film as a "truly shocking horror film" that was: "made even more disturbing by its haunting beauty". Geoffrey Macnab, writing in Sight and Sound, referred to the film as a "slow-burning but ultimately devastating horror pic" and said that: "It's a virtuoso piece of film-making with much more subtlety and depth than Miike's other films". The Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck described the film as: "One of the most audacious, iconoclastic horror films in recent years". Mark Schilling (The Japan Times) praised Shiina and Ishibashi's acting, but noted that: "Among the film's few irritants is a smarmy, snarly bad guy turn by Renji Ishibashi as Asami's wheelchair-bound ballet instructor. He is a reminder of where too many other Miike films have headed – straight for the video racks". Schilling concluded that: "Miike is ready for a bigger role – as one of the leading Japanese directors of his generation".
In the early 2010s, Time Out conducted a poll with several authors, directors, actors and critics who have worked within the horror genre to vote for their top horror films. Audition placed at number 18 on their top 100 list.
Writers for Variety, the Hollywood Reporter and Sight & Sound all emphasized the film's final scene. Scheck (Hollywood Reporter) stated that: "Miike lulls the audience into a state of complacency with a studied, slow-moving, lightly comic first half before delivering a gruesome final section that makes Stephen King's Misery look wholesome"; the ending was: "all the more shocking for the clinical way in which it is presented". Eisner (Variety) stated that it is only at the ending of the film that Audition: "breaks out of creepfest ghetto". In his essay on themes in Audition, Robin Wood stated that most of Miike's films are disturbing for: "what they have to tell us about the state of contemporary civilization; they are not in the least disturbing in themselves, operating on some fantasy level of annihilation, with 'comic-book' violence". In comparison, he stated that Audition is "authentically disturbing, and infinitely more horrifying: the first time I watched it – on DVD, at home, after warnings I had received – I was repeatedly tempted, through the last half hour, to turn it off". Wood compared the film to Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, stating that the film was: "almost as unwatchable as the news reels – of Auschwitz, of the innocent victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Vietnam, victims of Nazi or American dehumanization".
Of the film's success with Western audiences, Miike states that he was not surprised, but that he had: "no idea what goes on in the minds of people in the West and I don't pretend to know what their tastes are. And I don't want to start thinking about that. It's nice that they liked my movie, but I'm not going to start deliberately worrying about why or what I can do to make it happen again". Actress Eihi Shiina stated that, in Japan, only a certain type of film fan would watch Audition. By comparison, she said, the film was seen by many more people overseas, which she attributed to "good timing".
Aftermath and influence
After the release of Audition, Miike was going to adapt Murakami's novel Coin Locker Babies, but the project failed to find financing to get started.
Audition has been described as an influence on "torture porn". The term was invented by David Edelstein to describe films such as Saw, The Devil's Rejects and Wolf Creek that offer "titillating and shocking" scenes that push the audience to the margins of depravity for them to "feel something". Audition influenced American directors such as Eli Roth. Roth stated that Audition influenced him to make his film Hostel, with Miike even making a cameo as a satisfied customer of the kidnappers who let customers torture their victims. Richard Corliss, writing in Time, opined that Audition was different from torture porn films as: "unlike Saw and its imitators in the genre of torture porn, Audition doesn't go for gore-ific money shots. Miike's films live inside their characters, taking the temperature of their longings, the ridiculous ambitions they chase so obsessively and their need to experience the extreme to prove they're alive". Audition was listed by twin directors Jen and Sylvia Soska as one of their favourite horror films, and with the sisters saying that it was an influence on their film American Mary. The directors noted the character of Asami, stating that an audience generally sees: "female characters in a horror film as the helpless victim. This film leads you in one direction, skillfully hinting at a darker storyline for the otherwise meek and slight Asami until the final 15 minutes where we are introduced to a merciless monster. A perfect personification of the irrational rage of a woman scorned". Director Quentin Tarantino included Audition in his list of top 20 films released since 1992 (the year he became a director). Audition was among the films included in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
Deadline reported that executive producer Mario Kassar had begun work on an English language adaptation of Audition in 2014. Richard Gray was brought on to serve as the remake's director and screenwriter. The film's storyline will be taken from the Murakami novel as opposed to an adaptation of Miike's film, and the film will take place in North America. The new film is set to include scenes and locations in the novel that were not in the Miike's film.