The Japanese just do things a little different than us Americans. For example – we eat with forks and they eat with sticks that are inefficient and yet, awesome. We make a radio, and they take that radio and put on lots of insane doohickies and thingamajiggers that we’ll never figure out how to use and are also inefficient and yet, awesome. That is how I have felt about Japanese horror movies. When Americans make a horror movie, they take a concept they feel they can make scary. Then they figure out how they can make the movie understandable and plausible without having too much dialogue or story development. Then they deliver the horror and blood as quick and awesomely as possible. As an American, I agree with this technique. It is comfortible to me and feels like home. Evil Dead is a great example – it doesn’t take long to set up that story, so 30 minutes into it you’re ready for 50 minutes of blood and guts and screaming and gore and frights and crazy camera shots, etc.
The Japanese, on the other hand, are less efficient. They actually take the time to prepare an entire plot for you with character background that is more than one dimensional. In fact, while watching, you might even think that you are seeing a nice foreign drama with a suspenseful undertone. Then, after you’ve had a solid feeding of plot, they deliver the blood. It happens slower, but it’s great and often stylish. Once America gets ahold of a Japanese horror movie (Ring, Grudge, Dark Water), we speed it up and get the good stuff going quick. I can’t tell you how much slower The Ring is, Japanese style, in comparison to the Americanized Ring. But both are effective in their own ways.
With that said, Audition is a great movie. About one and a half hours into it, I was really starting to wonder if we were going to get any scary moments or if it was just “mood scary”. Well, we got ours, oh man did we ever. The best part is that it actually has some depth because we just spent a looooong time with the characters. It has a lot to say about physical and emotional abuse and how we as the public (meaning men) contribute with our objectifying. The lead character, a movie director, auditions women (above) for a fake movie so he can choose one as a wife. Finding a very shy, quiet but beautiful woman, he courts her and sleeps with her – and then she is gone. As he begins to search for her, he discovers that this woman has a past of violence – having been abused by family and men throughout her life. This leads to a very rewarding scene of torture and mayhem. This scene is not easy to stomach, primarily because it isn’t a bunch of gorey flashes done to meaningless characters – this is our lead character and it is slow, calculated, and ouchy.
Why not a Dr. Pepper? Stephen and I discussed this movie later – and we are still finding some holes. I’m sure if we watched it again, then we would discover some things we missed. Equally, something might have been lost in translation. Regardless, there was a prolonged dream/fainting sequence that tried desparately to fill all the holes they had created in the first 85% of the movie. They got most of them, but not enough to really think, “wow, now that is a Dr. Pepper!” Instead, this movie is a solid Pad Thai.
I think most people will like this movie. That’s the benefit to the whole character development – its makes it a little more than just horror, and I think you will respect that. Plus there is a newness that you can appreciate. And, like in many horror movies, women kick some butt. I can’t wait until America takes it, makes the blood squirt, and drops the depth for a few more scares. It’ll feel like home.