12th Oct2021

Grimmfest 2021: ‘The Sadness’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Regina, Tzu-Chiang Wang, Berant Zhu | Written and Directed by Rob Jabbaz

I watched The Sadness knowing that it already had quite the reputation. I’d read parts of reviews that had spoke about the misery, the horrific and sadistic scenes, the over-the-top violence and depravity and much much more. As a long time and hardcore horror fan that has seen (almost) everything, I wasn’t expecting something pretty horrible.

I can’t say that The Sadness disappoints on that regard either. It lives up to that reputation but more on that later. Clearly influenced by the current pandemic this is set in a World which is in about the same place we are now but the virus all of a sudden mutates, leading to much worse things than have come before it. Now those infected are inflicting unforgivable crimes to their victims – rape, murder, mutilation and torture are happening on every street and one young couple try to reunite in the middle of all the chaos. Think Shaun of the Dead but with absolutely no comedy and unthinkable violence.

If there are any fans of the comic Crossed, then this might all sound very familiar. I’d be surprised if this wasn’t another influence on the film-makers of The Sadness. The infected act in very similar ways and it’s just as horrific. If you haven’t read the comic you should definitely check it out.

So how bad is the violence exactly. Well I’m sure there’s plenty of gore fans that will say they’ve seen it (or maybe even worse) before, and that may be true. It’s hard to shock many genre fans but The Sadness gives it a good go. The sexual violence will always be the most controversial and shocking and that more or less is the case here but I’m not sure the director is just out to shock with his movie. The rape scenes for instance aren’t really shown on camera. It’s clear that they are happening with the build-up and the sound but not much is actually shown and I for one was glad of that. The murder and violence though, there’s plenty shown here and there’s no denying that it’s pretty horrifying. Hot cooking oil peels away at the skin of people’s faces, a fire extinguisher is used to batter someone’s skull in and we see every single shot, there’s even a Scanners-like head explosion. And honestly those listed isn’t even close to half of the worst of it. Fans of blood and gore, there’s an absolute ton of it!

It’s not just gore though. Well it mostly is but there’s a bit more to it as well. Key to this is that the young couple that are searching for each other across the city are thankfully likeable. They’re nice people that you want to see have a happy ending. The film also does a great job of building up a villain and that villain’s story having a satisfying ending. That part was really well done and didn’t feature many of the mistakes that other films do when the final showdown with the bad guy happens.

Even at about 100 minutes, The Sadness does not let up and the time completely flies by. But even if you’re enjoying the gore and violence, it’s hard not to feel the complete misery that the movie brings alongside it. I’m not sure a film has ever been as horrific as it is entertaining but The Sadness manages just that and this is a supremely confident debut feature.

**** 4/5

The Sadness screened as part of this years Grimmfest.

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