‘THE Sadness’ is a Taiwanese film written and directed by a Canadian director, Rob Jabbaz. It won best pic awards in two horror international filmfests and is now shown on Shudder.
It opens one fine morning in the modest condo home of a young couple, Jim (Berant Chu) and Kat (Regina Lei.)
While Kat is preparing to go to work, Jim watches the TV newscast and there’s a doctor giving a warning about a virus that is mutating so the whole country should be put in quarantine.
Jim sees that an old lady with blood on her dress is standing in a nearby rooftop. He tells about it to Kat but when they look again, the old woman is gone. Jim takes his wife to the train station going to Taipei on his motorcycle. On his way home, he stops to buy coffee and sees the old woman on the rooftop pouring boiling cooking oil on a man.
This starts a series of weird and violent incidents that he witnesses. Another man in the coffee suddenly stabs an innocent customer. A woman on a rooftop jumps into her death while laughing.
More people seem to get infected and they start chasing Jim who runs away to return to his own home.
His own neighbor who was earlier very friendly suddenly attacks Jim with a pair of shears, cutting off two of his fingers. The virus is turning innocent people into bloodthirsty, cannibalistic maniacs. Jim manages to escape on his motorbike and tries to contact his wife.
Kat is inside a fully loaded passenger train when a man, without any provocation, starts stabbing the other passengers. A businessman who is earlier being friendly to Kat while seated next to her suddenly runs amuck and also stabs people using his umbrella. The man stabs the fat lady seated beside Kat right on the eye. When the train stops, Kat manages to run away but the man is hellbent on pursuing her.
Jim sees so many other brutal happenings among the public, like some teenagers cruelly beating a helpless man with their baseball bats. He gets to call Kat on his cellphone and tells her he will do his best to reunite with her. On TV, the president of Taiwan is shown talking to the public when his own general puts a hand grenade on his mouth to blast of his head. Will husband and wife get to successfully reconnect again in a world gone mad?
Brace yourselves for the unabated violence and relentless brutality in this gorefest. There are so many scenes that are veritable bloodbaths that makes it definitely not for the faint-hearted. The squeamish will surely find them gross and find it hard to watch.
This is a different version of a zombie movie, because the infected people here are not walking dead since they’re still perfectly aware of all the insane things they’re doing, like killing and mutilating and raping people, and yet, they cannot control themselves from doing it. The virus just highlights their true dark, depraved and ugly nature.
Infected people all go rabid and go on a rampage, ruthlessly beating up other at random, ripping up necks with their own teeth, chewing off tendons with blood spurting like fountains from their victims. In one scene, an infected man eats the nose of another man and chews it. Even babies in a nursery are not spared. Of course, the allusions to the covid pandemic and a useless government that we all experience are palpable.
This kind of horror movie is not meant to make much logical sense, but in fairness to its makers, they manage to make most of the extreme, over-the-top scenes look believable and viscerally upsetting on screen, all done unapologetically.
The production values are first rate, establishing a bleak, panic-inducing atmosphere with its good visual and make up effects. The pacing is fast and the whole movie clocks in at only one hour and 30 minutes. If you’re looking for a feel good movie, the title alone already warns you since it’s about what we will all feel when all the goodness and kindness is taken away from this world.