Dir. Guy (2022)
A woman believes that a strange local man called "The Cicada Man" has implanted his cicadas inside her body, and she must get them out at all costs.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
If you live in a part of the country (or the world) that gets cicadas, going through one of their brooding cycles in an intense, otherworldly experience. Every time you go outside there is this all-encompassing, almost violent, sound that seems like it will never end, and once they begin to die off after mating, their insect bodies litter the ground like leaves after a particularly blustery fall wind, their discarded husks crunching under your feet like the same. Even the name, "brood," carries with it a foreboding and menacing undertone, as if they're threatening to take over like tiny zombies who infect their hosts with an annoying, ethereal siren's scream. Then again, I had a dog who ate them off of the ground like popcorn and seemed particularly proud of his insectivorous apocalypse, so I guess we're not in too much danger from our irritating potential overlords.
In other words, cicadas are a trip, and if you've never gotten to experience one of their mating cycles, I highly recommend traveling somewhere during their next cycle because there's really nothing else like it in the world (as long as you can get past the fact that you're surrounded by literally hundreds of thousands of bugs).
The incessant and unceasing nature of the otherwise-humble cicada is an intriguing subject for a body horror film, which director Guy (who also goes by Guy Pearce but is just "Guy" for the sake of the film's credits) takes full advantage of in the most Cronenberg way possible. The thought of bugs invading one's body is terrifying, and that sensation of things crawling beneath your skin is fairly common in tons of psychological and substance abuse conditions, as is the all-consuming need to do whatever it takes to get them out.
Guy instills this same feeling in his audience, utilizing the overpowering sound of the cicadas as an earworm for those watching the film in much the same way as he does the character, inserting that aggravating chitter throughout the film in an inescapably intrusive soundtrack to the body horror that we see on screen. The Sound of Summer is, at its core, a film about mental illness and paranoid delusion, and Guy tempers these common horror themes with an indie sensibility and a unique eye for gore. It's just an altogether gross film, which makes it a perfect fit for Unearthed Films' unique, bizarre, and bloody group of releases.
Of course, the indie nature of the film does bring its fair share of challenges. The acting is a bit subpar and "uncinematic", feeling like a Japanese mumblegore/cinema verite entry at times (which serves to make the film a bit more disturbing and realistic, actually). There's not a whole lot of character development, with most of the film's short runtime being devoted to the main character's slow descent into insect-driven madness. The intended audience, however, isn't gonna care about none of that shit, because they're here for the mind-melting gore and the unsettling locust carnage. (It's important to note here that cicadas are not locusts, though they have been referred to as such throughout history by various uninformed authors. It's also only important because I'm a huge geek for random factoids. The more you know.)
Thankfully for folks who desire to check out the film, the gore is top-notch and utterly disgusting. As our heroine begins to rip her body apart, the chunks of flesh fly and the entrails are put on full display in a surprisingly adept show of makeup effects. The dreamlike cinematography, especially during the film's more gruesome scenes of bodily destruction, is jarring and excruciating, eliciting more than one "no don't do that" from me as I watched. Why in the world these new directors constantly insist that they show fingernail peeling in graphic detail I'll never know, but it sure does do the trick to evoke a certain amount of visceral disgust.
The film goes off the rail a little in the last half, becoming a bit nonsensical (though I believe that was probably the intent). The ethereal absurdity of the bugfuck insane (thankfully not literally) finale is stomach-churning and a drastic departure from the rest of the film's psychologically-focused body horror, sending the audience full-tilt down the Cronenberg The Fly-era disgusting mayhem rabbithole. While this does serve to make the movie more arthouse and deranged, it also makes it even more disturbing. It makes the movie a little less watchable, but it also delivers a literal gutpunch of bug-focused horror. So... good?
Who this movie is for: Gory horror fans, Body horror lovers, Entomologists
Bottom line: Dark, gruesome, and gruelingly disturbing, The Sound of Summer is a twisted ride through bodily carnage and bugs with more than a little influence from Cronenberg's The Fly and Andrzej Zulawski's Possession (with perhaps a bit of Polanski's Repulsion thrown in.) Before Unearthed Films released their version (which comes out tomorrow!), this film was literally never screened outside of Japan. If you're a fan of weird Japanese films with a gory, dreamlike aesthetic, this one is a must see. If you're a fan of Unearthed's brand of demented extreme horror, it's also one you'll definitely want to check out. If you like your movies without bug-focused nightmare fuel, then get the fuck out of here, you filthy casual. Head on over to UnearthedFilms.com to pick up your copy.