tl;dr Unsettling and genre defying, Audition is at the very least worth a look if you have a strong stomach.
Early in University a friend of mine hands me a book, points to a paragraph and tells me to read it. In said paragraph a descriptively drawn orgy is taking place. The book is Almost Transparent Blue by Ryu Murakami and when a friend mentions a Jap. horror flick named Audition it tickled my memory - isn't that also a book by Ryu Murakami? As it happened the gratuity on display in this choice passage was something of a good indication as to what to expect and uttterly misleading.
Audition is a story about man whose wife died a number of year ago. His son and his friend are both insistent that he needs a new woman, and his friend comes up with the idea of staging an audition for a movie. Through this ruse he would be able to meet a large number of attractive young women and one in particular leaps out at him. And from this hijinks ensue.
This is an insiduous movie. Certainly, there's a tonal ambiguity that hangs over most the movie. In another movie, the set up could be lead to a quirky romcom and at times this seems like a romance, or a study of loneliness. Nothing about this movie's advertising, to the cover of the DVD, however, leaves you in any doubt that this is more than that. A horror, it's often classed as, but really it defies classification. Nonetheless, a very quiet tension builds, incredibly subtle direction and editing tricks that keep us uncomfortable even when the movie is giving us no good reason to be uncomfortable.
Audition walks a line between lots of genres, comitting fully to none. It plays with expectations and although this does suggest a chance that people may be alienated, likelihood is if you are watching it you are probably open to a very different type experience anyway. It's a well directed and written affair, careful never to tip the balance, making sure as to keep the plot on the edge of plausibility even as it cascades into nightmarish and seemingly paranormal sequences.
Audition is a haunting and violent movie, an utterly bonkers yet strangely fragile film. It's lack of commitment to any one label or genre is ultimately one of it's strengths and it's brutality serves an end so as to make sure the comic is never just violence for titilation. If you've got a strong stomach, definitely look it up.