Entertainment Earth


The Sadness (Review)

Writer/ Director: Rob Jabbaz
Cast: Berant Zhu, Regina Lei, Ying-Ru Chen, Tzu-Chaing Wang, Emerson Tsai, Wai-Hua Lan
Year: 2021
Min: 99

In Taiwan, a young couple, Jim (Berant Zhu) and Kat (Regina Lei), have a minor argument about him working instead of going away with her as had been planned. On the TV news, a podcast is shown featuring Dr. Wong (Wei-Hua Lan), who warns that the current flu like Alvin virus is mutating and that the nation needs to quarantine. The host of said podcast scoffs at this stating that is all being done cause this is an election year. Before going to work Jim notices a blood covered old woman on a nearbay roof. Immediately there after, he talks to his neighbor Mr. Li (Ralf Chiu, here credited as Ralf Yen-Hslang Chiu) who thinks that the virus is a load of bullshit. 

But, of course, it ain't, and when Jim goes to a café all hell breaks loose. The old lady he saw on the roof viciously attacks the cook. Immediately after, bloody violence erupts. Meanwhile, on the train that Kat is on, murder and violence explodes as people begin to brutally attack and kill passengers Blood and viscera begins to fly, as a body count quickly rises. She helps a woman named Molly (Ying-Ru Chen) who has gotten stabbed in the eye. They both head to a hospital, and hope to be safe there. Kat tells Jim where she is. He heads to there to meetup with her, as they both try to survive the ever increasing acts of brutality and horrific violence that are happening around them. For you see, the virus is spreading quickly and creating more assaulting, murdering, and raping zombies.

The Sadness is a 2021 Taiwanese infected/ zombie/ hardcore splatter/ horror movie. It premiered in its homeland of Taiwan on January 22, 2021 and played a few festivals in the months that followed. The movie's extreme and boundary pushing ways quickly gained it a reputation, as gruesome and shocking. But, it has also been getting praise for the movie's inherit quality. 

Horror has always been indictive and responsive of the world around it. Look no further than the nuclear horror movies of the 1950's or the post 9/11 torture porn era. So then, it comes as no shock that the COVID pandemic era is seeing a rise (pun not intended) in infected horror, as also seen in the recent and well made Argentinian/ Uruguayan Virus-32 (currently streaming on Shudder). But, with The Sadness, we might have already hit our be all-end all of disease horror flicks.  

As would be expected the film is highly topical and its politics very contemporary. It's allegory to the corona virus and the attitudes of denial and political standings inherit with it are certainly blatant. But then, this movie is in your face in every fucking way. That its warranted and timely statements are all wrapped in a balls to the wall splatter movie reminds us that yes, you can make an extreme horror movie with something important to say. Its commentary is not just regulated to COVID, though, as one incredibly uncomfortable and realistic feeling scene involving a creepy businessman hitting on Kat showcases. 

One of the things that really makes the movie work are our two leads. Both Berant Zhu and Regina Lei, as Jim and Kat respectively, are an incredibly likable and believable couple. You care for them and want them to survive, even when it all feels nihilistic. As such, it really adds to the tension and fear that we feel watching them. It also helps that both give great performances. They come off as heroic, but still feel grounded, in a reality where no one suddenly becomes an unbelievable action hero. 

Writer/ director Ron Jabbaz makes his directorial debut with this movie and blows away some guys who have been behind the camera for fucking years. Right off the bat, this is one of the absolute finest and, certainly, most dangerous debuts in many moon. He gives us a very good looking movie, that is also savage in its intensity and extreme content. From the very first moment of violence committed onscreen, your jaw will drop to the floor.

In fact, if you leave with even one takeaway (even though I can't see this being only one), it will be that the ultra-gory, take no shit splatter movie is not dead! Unlike most recent gorefests, this one is dead serious. It isn't trying to be funny or hip. What humor is included is enough to break the intensity with some levity. Also, the flick doesn't bring its message through some pretentious "elevated" bullshit. What this flick is is a true balls to the walls, excellently made genre movie. The climax is powerful and harsh in both story and feel. We also get a totally kick ass death/ grind metal track named "Crying City" by Ashen, which serves as the icing on the bloody cake, ending everything perfectly.  

And, make no mistake, this motherfucker takes no prisoners. The infected in this movie don't simply run and kill. They can also talk, shoot weapons, and commit rape. As a matter of fact, there is a lot of rape, which may make this a disturbing viewing for some. The splatter FX are excellent, shocking, and realistic. They include arterial spraying, eye gougings, bodies hitting the pavement, finger chopping, fleshing munching, arm snapping, barb wire to the balls, stabbings, and more. A couple of set pieces really stand out among all the spattering blood and guts. One of them involving an infected neighbor and garden shears that made even this old gorehound wince! Another one has to be a stab to the aorta which leads to a geyser of blood hitting the train ceiling and passengers. This scene alone counts as the year's best and bloodiest kill. Scratch that. The whole goddamn train scene is easily the year's most horrific, bloody, and nightmarish moment! And, we get even more graphic shit happening after that! 

Look, I'm not gonna beat around the bush, The Sadness is the most uncompromising horror movie in a very, very long time. It's shocking, unmerciful, ultraviolent, and an easy 10 on the gore-meter. But, it isn't simply a mindless gorefest, as it also serves as a terrifying reflection of the post-COVID world in which we live in. The film is the definitive and final word on the infected zombie trope. It is also technically excellent. This is thanks to the strong directing, which gives it a great look, fast pacing, nail-biting tension, and a nihilistic feeling. On top of this, the acting is superb, especially from the two likable leads. That being said, it is most certainly not for the queasy or easily offended. Those with trigger warnings like rape and sexual harassment should definitely avoid as well. All other horror and splatter fans should take heed and jump right in, when the movie begins streaming exclusively on Shudder on May 12, 2022.