The Sound of Summer (2022) is a disturbing and suffocating Japanese body horror, written and directed by the UK-born creator Guy (Guy Pearce). Although this film is his debut feature-length film, he already has made a name for himself by writing and directing a number of shorts such as The Rope Maiden (2013), Difficulty Breathing (2017), and Jihanko (2018).

The Sound of Summer follows the story of an unnamed young female protagonist living a quiet life in Tokyo. She works in a lovely cafe and spends her spare time writing songs. However, her existence is marred by the relentless summer heat and the deafening sound of cicadas surrounding her.

One day, a strange man enters her workplace, carrying boxes filled with live cicadas. His odd demeanor catches her attention, and she jokingly dubs him “Cicada Man,” alongside her friend. Beyond this brief encounter, they have no further interaction.

However, after a distressing nightmare, the protagonist begins to experience what appears to be a severe skin allergy. As her condition worsens over time, she suspects that the Cicada Man somehow inserted insects into her body. Determined to rid herself of these pests at any cost, she embarks on a relentless and bloody quest to alleviate her discomfort.

the sound of summer

Is “The Sound of Summer” (2022) a good movie?

Evident for all to discern, it’s observable that Guy and his crew worked with a limited budget. The locations may appear barren, and some props might seem cheap. However, they made the most of their resources. In an era dominated by numbing CGI in high-budget films, it’s refreshing to witness the return of practical effects, provided by the incredibly talented Susumu Nakatani.

The results are not always flawless, but they often deliver a punch. The makeup effects depicting the protagonist’s deteriorating condition are superb. It becomes easy to believe her transformation from uncomfortable scabs to full-fledged body horror. For those familiar with Japanese horror works like Naked Blood”(1996) or the obscure “The Lady in the Sea of Blood (1997), this film successfully captures the essence of body horror in line with today’s standards. Additionally, a scene involving the Cicada Man is both terrifying and beautiful, showcasing the filmmakers’ ability to achieve remarkable effects on a limited budget.

The sound and light design are also notable strengths of the movie. The constant singing of the cicadas creates an omnipresent presence that adds a psychological layer to the protagonist’s descent into insanity. No matter where she goes, she cannot escape her torment. The lighting, predominantly white, contributes to a disorienting atmosphere, making the audience feel as if they are under constant scrutiny through a microscope.

However, the film does suffer from certain creative and storytelling decisions. Overall, the acting is good, with Kaori Hoshino bringing a vulnerable quality to the protagonist in her dire situation. Shinya Hankawa portrays the Cicada Man convincingly, transitioning from meek to unhinged. Unfortunately, at times, the dialogue feels stiff and unrealistic, particularly in scenes involving the protagonist’s doctor. These overlooked details make the story feel more like make-believe than the genuine experiences of people encountering supernatural phenomena. Although this does not reach jarring levels, it can interrupt the pacing and narrative immersion.

Final Thoughts

The Sound of Summer may not become a mainstream horror movie, but it will undoubtedly appeal to Japanese body horror enthusiasts. Despite its limitations and flaws, the story, sound, and visuals are compelling enough to overshadow some narrative and creative hiccups. While it may not appeal to mainstream fans of the genre, those accustomed to the old-school body horror of directors like David Cronenberg will surely find a treat in this film.

As a debut feature film, Guy’s artistic sensibilities show great promise. If given the opportunity to refine his craft and work with a larger budget, it is clear that he could become a valuable addition to the genre.

The Sound of Summer (2022) is available to preorder from Unearthed Films Website here (Available June 13th) as well as on Amazon here*.

*Affiliate Link


More Film Reviews