Movie Review: ‘The Sadness’ (2nd Opinion)

Director: Rob Jabbaz

Cast: Berant Zhu, Regina Lei, Tzu-Chiang Wang, Emerson Tsai, Wei-Hua Lan, Ralf Chiu, Ying-Ru Chen

Plot: When a wide-spread but harmless virus mutates, it drives everyone infected to commit horrendous acts of sadism on those around them. As Taiwan descends into chaos, young couple Jim and Kat attempt to stay alive long enough to reunite.

Review: The Sadness has recently received its worldwide debut, appearing on the dedicated horror streaming service Shudder. When you sign up to Shudder, you’re doing so because you like to watch horror. What caught my eye with this film, was this: Note: The Sadness contains graphic and extreme violence/gore, as well as brief strobe effects in the end credits.

Excuse me? A warning for graphic and extreme violence/gore on Shudder? Perhaps this is a mistake, since we tend to be all about violence and gore around here. Horror fans are all about pushing boundaries and challenging societal norms. This is the genre we need to explores taboos and fears, so what level or content does this movie have to warrant a warning such as this? As it turns out, the warning is more than justified as this is possibly the most insanely brutal and horrific gorefest we’ve ever seen. There’s nothing cartoony about it, as you would find in the early works of Peter Jackson, instead it’s an endurance trail of violence and depravity that eats away at the viewer and provides bragging rights for the next generation of edgelord teenagers.

In essence, this is a zombie outbreak movie. The people around you have become ravenous creatures, and those attacked are likely to become part of the infected horde. Small groups of strangers band together, but as these microcosm societies are unable to work together they crumble. The context separates this from the usual shuffling zombie dystopia, taking some very clear cues from global events of the past few years. At the outset of the movie, the ‘Alvin’ virus is already wide-spread and the people of Taiwan has become complacent. The symptoms are akin to a mild flu, and the odds of have a severe effect are low. The government does not want to put the population into lockdown or disrupt the economy, so they play down the risk of the pandemic and discredit medical professionals who warn that there’s a high chance of viral mutation.

Naturally, the worst happens when the ‘Alvin’ virus does mutate and those infected are overcome with a giddy, high energy sadism. With the rapid spread of the highly infectious virus, madness takes over the streets and people begin ripping each other apart. Quite literally. For most horror movies, a character having their digestive tract spilled out over the ground would be a peak point of horror. The Sadness, meanwhile, quickly turns this into a standard fate for its extras and things escalate from there. Skulls are cracked open for brains to be chewed on, eyes are scooped out, barb wire is creatively utilised, and much worse. These people are not out just to kill or feed, but they take delight in torture, rape and dismemberment.

Among the dangerous and deranged menace is an unnamed businessman (Wang) who commutes on the same train as Kat (Lei), one of our two protaganist. It’s on this day that he tries to engage with Kat, and expresses his admiration for her. When she rejects his creepy advances, he quickly turns hostile and reflects the incel culture that have grown and festered on the internet and violently broken out in the form of shooting sprees and attacks. This representation of one of modern societies most pathetic and dangerous groups becomes infected and turns into the main antagonist of the story, obsessively hunting Kat to claim what he feels is his to possess.

The social commentary surrounding the pandemic and attitudes of entitled and emotionally stunted men is not overbearing or forced. Rather it grounds the film by presenting recognisable threats of our modern world all connected to feelings of entitlement and greed. People ignore the signs of sickness and advice to visit the hospital because it would infringe on their personal freedoms, and the businessman pursues Kat because he’s convinced he should be awarded a beautiful woman because he’s nice. Then it descends into a completely insane and unrelenting torrent of death and torture. It can genuinely be enjoyed as a social cross-section, or an experiment in pushing the envelope of horror.

Just to be clear…it the idea of someone being skull-fucked as a story element is too much for, maybe just watch Stranger Things. I don’t know if that actually happens on screen, because I skipped ahead. Just…no.

Rating: EIGHT out of TEN

Darknite also talked about this, see what they said here!