New to Blu: Unearthed Films: The Sound of Summer (2022) - Reviewed


Images courtesy of Unearthed Films

It's the dog days of summer, the hottest and most sweat-drenched time of the year. A young Japanese woman (Kaori Hoshino) swelters in her tiny apartment, driven mad by both the heat and the incessant buzzing of the cicadas outside her window. She reluctantly gets ready for work and trudges to her job at a small cafe. For the past few weeks, their cafe has been visited by a creepy person she has nicknamed Cicada Man (Shinya Hankawa), who sits silently at a table holding cages full of whirring cicadas. What is his purpose, and why does he come to see them daily? The answer will take both the protagonist and the audience down a path of paranoia, body horror, and insanity.

The Sound of Summer (2022) starts out on an unassuming note, following the main character around in a vlog style as she goes about her daily business. The mood feels almost cozy, with the beautiful Japanese countryside as a calming backdrop. The tone changes once Cicada Man makes an appearance and enters the woman's life via a hallucination that starts affecting her physically in real life. She has a dream that he sets his bugs loose in her room and lets them crawl inside her, and she has an eventual mental breakdown that culminates in her cutting pieces of herself off to get at the insects she believes to be crawling under her skin.

The camera work, color grading, and gory subject matter are reminiscent of the V-Cinema boom in Japan that included movies like Guzoo: The Thing Forsaken by God (1987), Cyclops (1987), and The Guinea Pig series. Although the story starts out relatively slow, it ramps up in the second half and explodes into a gory and disgusting finale that has existential arthouse trappings. It's unclear what is real and what is fantasy; perhaps the entire tale is a metaphor for depression or other mental health issues. Kaori Hoshino puts in a primarily silent physical performance as she slowly spirals into madness, which is excellent in contrast to the early dialogue, which feels stilted and unnatural. That being said, her silent performance is perfect for the surreal vibe of the film. The Sound of Summer is a Kafka-style tale that takes the viewer into a nightmare world where fear becomes real and distorts the body as well as the mind.

Blu-Ray Extras:

Behind The Scenes of The Sound of Summer

Tokyo Talkshow with the creators of The Sound of Summer, Loud and legendary director Shozin Fukui

Japanese Premiere


--Michelle Kisner