THE SADNESS (2021)
Written and Directed by Rob Jabbaz
Grimmfest 2021 Review
Chinese Language with English Subtitles
After living with a seemingly harmless virus for over a year, Taiwan’s citizens are left fighting for their lives when the virus mutates, driving the infected into committing sinister acts and the most sadistic of fantasies unto others. A young couple fight for survival in the quest to be reunited amidst murder and mayhem.
Closing out Friday night of Grimmfest 2021, THE SADNESS is a vicious orgy of violence, enacting depraved savagery at every turn as a torrent of torture, murder and rape is unleashed onto the public. Set upon a familiar backdrop of a country enduring a pandemic, not too dissimilar to the one the globe has been facing with Covid-19, the citizens are keen to get on with life as normal with the Government refusing to lock the country down due to it being election year. Many people oppose the scare tactics, blaming the Government for orchestrating fear through a harmless virus for their own gain (an obvious dig at those who challenge the Covid narrative). Not heeding the warnings of a renowned scientist who predicts the virus is bound to evolve and mutate, the population find themselves at the mercy of their fellow man when the infection takes hold and strips them of all morals and humanity, leaving an empty shell of carnal desire and an appetite for murder.
When I first came across THE SADNESS trailer a few months ago, it was evident the film was going to shock and disturb with outrageous scenes and copious amounts of blood. I just hadn’t realised how intense it would be until sitting down to watch the story unfold, told through the main characters, Kat and Jim, an ordinary young couple planning their future. Who could predict that their morning would make way for chaos?
Within half an hour of watching the movie, I’d already seen enough to traumatise me, yet I had over an hour left to go. As the film progresses, it gets more violent; an assault on all that is decent. THE SADNESS goes to the places you really wish it wouldn’t and doesn’t hold back. It’s a brutal affair, rampant with sexual violence – something you can sense brewing early on in the film during a scene of sexual harassment. This aspect only intensifies as the movie progresses which may leave the female movie viewing contingent particularly perturbed, as I was, as Kat and subway girl Molly become the main targets for violence.
If you’re watching THE SADNESS for its story then you’ll likely be left underwhelmed, but if you’re looking for a film to truly shock you, then you can’t get much more explicit than this. It’s an endurance test for anyone, one I’d not like to repeat again. The savagery on display as people are hacked to bits, blood gushing everywhere and spraying over everyone, feels gratuitous and disgustingly real, like we’re party to a snuff film. Couple this with the sadistic urges and spouting of the infected rampaging about town and it’s a rather malignant flick indeed. If there was ever to be “hell on Earth”, I’m fairly sure it’d look like the scenes depicted in this film.
Relentless in its nastiness, THE SADNESS is a bleak onslaught of bat-shit craziness. It definitely won’t be for everyone, and even those looking for an extreme version of a zombie flick may be left disturbed, but without a doubt it feels like director Rob Jabbaz has achieved what he set out to do in his first feature film. It’s sick, it’s warped and it’s definitely screwed up, but you can’t deny the incredible makeup, VFX, set-piece setup and planning what must have gone into creating such a gruelling, terrifying nightmare. So whilst I may not recommend this film for ‘entertainment’ purposes, I believe it more than hit its mark.