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Japanese Horror Visual Aesthetics

Takashi Miike

Director Takashi Miike

Who is Takashi Miike?

Takashi Miike is an astonishingly prolific filmmaker who has directed over one hundred films, television shows, and theatrical productions since his debut thirty years ago. He is perhaps most well known for his romantic horror film Audition (1999), which is based on the 1997 novel of the same name by Ryu Murakami (Takashi Miike). The plot follows Shigeharu Aoyama, a middle-aged widower who seeks out renewed female companionship through a series of mock television "auditions." He quickly becomes attracted to a much younger auditioner named Asami Yamazaki and dismisses any misgivings he has about her because he is so captivated by her charm. His suspicions soon prove warranted, as the film devolves into a violent spectacle of body horror, in which the boundaries between reality and the dream world become unclear. Miike doesn't leave any of the gore to the imagination; rather, he audaciously shows every moment of torture in lurid, close-up detail.  The film's disturbing imagery garnered mixed critical reception, with many reviews landing on each extreme of the spectrum. While one woman made a point to scream, "You are sick," at Miike during a screening in which the director was in attendance, the film received a number of awards from various film festivals (Hickinbottom, 2016). It is important to note that the imagery of the film does not employ gore for gore's sake, but instead, these images subvert broader anxieties about gendered power dynamics in intergenerational romantic relationships and exploit a Western fascination with perceived Japanese eccentricities.

Promotional Material for Audition (1999)

This trailer gives a preview of the disturbing imagery that is characteristic of many of Audition's more gruesome scenes. (metadata link)

Movie poster for Audition (1999)

Mark Schilling Interviews Miike about his International Hit, Audition (1999), Originally Published in Screen Daily

"Miike's Audition (1999) leads to a role on the world stage"



In this interview with Takashi Miike, Mark Schilling asks the director about his critically acclaimed film Audition, which granted him an international following, and about his place in Japanese New Wave cinema. 

When we asked Mr. Schilling about Miike during a personal interview, he described the provocative director as "a wild man in his imagination, but very polite in person."

Additional Reviews Written by Mark Schilling on Films by Takashi Miike

The following are clippings of reviews that Schilling has written on other horror films directed by Takashi Miike. The first image is a review of Chakushin Ari (One Missed Call), in which Schilling describes how the film has its origins in the Japanese "Ringu" folktale but is distinguished from the many other cinematic adaptations of the story due to the nature of Miike's creative vision. Chakushin Ari was Miike's first attempt at a mainstream horror film and demonstrated his ability to tailor his unique stylistic techniques toward a broader audience.  

The second document is a clipping of a review Mark Schilling wrote on Takashi's Gokudo Kyofu Daigekijo Gozu (Gozu). In the review, he discusses how this film did not see a major theatrical release in Japan but didn't fail to achieve recognition from Miike's more committed fans, particularly those drawn to his extremist style. 

Click on the image and then click on it again in the next screen to view these reviews full size.

Other Horror Films by Takashi Miike