The Sadness Movie Review
The Sadness, a zombie film of sorts from director Rob Jabbaz, who makes his feature directorial debut with an exclamation point.
The film, set and was made in Taiwan, shows a nation that is one year into a pandemic that is more or less benign, but when society lets its guard down, the virus mutates into something much more sinister. Obvious parallels to COVID aside, the shots taken at the government’s response are the real zingers.
The mutated virus affects the minds of its host, causing them to become homicidal and violently horny. Just about any depraved and violent act, you can think of, and a few you can’t, are on full display. If you are triggered by, well anything, then The Sadness might be one to avoid. But, if you enjoy fountains of blood, mutilation, and violent rape, then look no further!
The zombie influences are obvious, as are the Troma and exploitation elements, and there is absolutely room for those components in zombie films, but it is a matter of execution. Zombieland for instance takes a comedic approach, where the over-the-top kills and gore are played for laughs, while Zombie 2 plays to the more traditional zombie tropes, but adds on the gore as more an homage. Both are extremely violent, but it works. The Sadness will absolutely be one of the most violent films you will ever see, but it is done in such an “in your face” way, it is not beholding to anything that has come before, it forges its own path into depravity almost as if the filmmakers were making bets to see how far they could go. Extreme gore and rape for the purpose of merely showing the act holds no significance. There is no subtly and certainly no deeper meaning other than a full-frontal assault.
The craft and competency in which the film is created are certainly to be commended, unfortunately, the story is discarded in order to serve the shocking carnage. It isn’t an overly complicated story to tell, our two main characters are separated at the beginning of the outbreak and desperately seek to reunite with each other. The first 20 minutes are very compelling, the virus hasn’t overrun the city yet and there are increasingly more ominous signs that things are about to go terribly wrong. That sense of dread and mystery is really fun and I wish it tapped more into that apocalyptic vein. All hell breaks loose when people start turning on each other and the race is on. The film devolves into a series of grisly vignettes from that point and as the buckets of blood spill, it becomes less earnest and more cynical.
Jabbaz is definitely confident behind the camera and the effects are very well done, I just wish there was more of a point to all of it. If you are a fan of the genre you may get exactly what you want, but in a time when there are so many good zombie films to choose from, using extreme violence as the only way of setting yourself apart just seems like a waste.