★ out of ★★★★★
Directed by Rob Jabbaz
The Sadness, directed by Rob Jabbaz, begins the way your standard outbreak movie does…Jim (Berant Zhu) and Kat (Regina Lei) are a young couple who are going about their normal routine after Jim drops Kat off at the train station to go to work. However, on this day the city succumbs to an outbreak of the Alvin virus that turns all infected into crazed zombies within seconds, and the film follows the young couple trying to get back to each other amidst the chaos. This is absolutely nothing new and myriad other films follow this trope.
The way this film tries to bring something new to the table is by making this one of the most violent and bloody zombie films ever made. I knew it was going to be extreme, I had heard as much in the buzz from the festivals; it won the best first feature at Fantasia in 2021 and has a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes so I was ready for a bloody good time. But what started with gore, geysers of blood and gross out effects (what I consider fun horror stuff) quickly went down a much darker path… right over my bridge too far.
Listeners to the podcast know that my bridge too far is sexual violence and I purposefully don’t watch films that focus on it unless absolutely necessary to the plot. I also try to stay away from reading advance reviews and watching too many trailers because I want to go into films not knowing too much but man, I wish I had read some reviews before turning this film on.
I wasn’t expecting such a mean, misogynistic film full of unnecessary gratuitous sexual violence. Here the zombies are not just bloodthirsty for human flesh, they are also so sadistic that they only want to cause suffering to all the uninfected and that continually manifests as rape and other sexual acts.
At about the one hour mark of the film a scene began to unfold and I turned to my husband and said, “if they do what I think they are going to do, I’m turning this off”…and they did, and I did. Not wanting to review a film I had not finished, I turned it back on the next day but I wish I had stuck with my gut instinct and never finished.
I don’t even know what to say about The Sadness because I haven’t been this affected and pissed off by a film in a long time. I will say that any of our gateway horror fans should skip this one. I’m someone who uses comedy as a coping mechanism so all I would have to say to the filmmaker is “I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.” If you get that quote you can join me in watching silly Adam Sandler movies until The Sadness is scrubbed from my memory (never gonna happen, sigh).