I’m feeling a little queasy and shaken after watching The Sadness, the Taiwanese film from director Rob Jabbaz in his feature film debut arriving on Shudder last weekend. There were some scenes, especially in the first 15-20 minutes when things were starting to ramp up that really stuck with me in that “kicked-me-in-the-gut” way.
The Sadness started out with our two main protagonists, Jim (Berant Zhu) and Katie (Regina Lei) waking up, happily in bed. They seemed happy, despite Jim lacking drive in his life. While Katie prepared for work, Jim saw a TV broadcast talking about a pandemic sweeping the land called the Alvin virus. A doctor (a very Dr. Fauci type individual) argued with the news program about the dangers of the Alvin virus and how people should take it seriously.
As Jim took Katie to the train station, they passed by the police dealing with a man who had brutally murdered another person.
After dropping off Katie, Jim went for a coffee, where he and others in the shop were exposed to an older lady who viciously attacked other customers, that triggered a full out bloodbath. Jim ran from the suddenly bloodthirsty crowd, getting back to his place.
Meanwhile, Katie was being hit on by a weird businessman (Tzu-Chiang Wang) on the train just before someone else started to stab victims in the train.
The film was kind of like a zombie movie, but different because the zombies were not brainless, but, in actuality, vicious and horny. They were not only looking to eat their victims, but also sexually gratify themselves before consuming them. This twist in the zombie tale really made for some disturbing imagery in The Sadness and kept everybody tense and on their guard.
This is one of the goriest and, frankly, unnerving films I have seen in awhile, probably since the DailyView when I watched The Bay. I found myself, especially early in the film, crying out in shock and, perhaps, disgust as the shocks came quick and hard.
It may be a little too close to home with the Alvin virus being the cause of all of the death, and being debated and refuted by governments and the media until it is too late.
This is not a film for the faint-at-heart or someone who does not do well with the sight of blood. There is a lot of it here. However, it is an absolutely tense thriller with plenty of real frights as you follow the two main characters in their efforts to get back to one another. The Sadness is a creative adjustment to the zombie sub-genre of horror films and creates a mood of fear and lack of safety.