"Audition" has the tension and dramatic composition of a classic Hitchcock thriller. It starts off with a seemingly harmless, almost romantic plot and only quietly drops a few hints at the nightmare it'll become in the end. There's this moment in the middle when the slightly suspicious but nevertheless light hearted story turns into a hard edge thriller, and, of course, a climax.
We all know this structure from beloved classics like 'Psycho', 'Notorious', 'The Birds'.
The difference lies in the amount of graphic violence and sadism. "Audition" pushes the limit of what's thrilling and what's barely watchable. It has that touch of 'Misery' and 'Fatal Attraction', being about a seemingly gentle and kind woman turning suspicious and ultimately insane, but goes way beyond when it comes to its intense moments.
Carefully written and far too interesting to switch it off, this Japanese thriller carefully leads us to what would be called a perverted bloodshed in a regular formularic slasher flick, but manages to fit it in so precisely that it turns into a logical consequence to the events happening before, and a real nail-biter of an ending.
The violence in "Audition" is extreme. A head is cut off with a piece of wire. Body parts can be seen on the floor, throbbing around. A heavily disfigured man, who is missing those body parts, is forced to eat vomit. A dead dog is seen after being killed (the dog was seen alive in some scenes before, though it didn't play a major role). The finale is extremely graphic and lasts for very long, at least 10 minutes: a man is pierced with needles (on-screen), and gets his foot cut off by a wire (off-screen, but we hear everything with disturbing sound effects and see the torturer's and the victim's reaction). Those are the most graphic/disturbing scenes.
Sex isn't as graphic as CSM points out. A topless woman is seen once, but most of the sexual content is thematic elements. It's R stuff, but a light R.
Language is PG-13 level, infrequent or mild.
Violence is the main issue to worry about.