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The Sadness (2021)

One thing I am well known for is my love of slasher films, yet in very close second is the zombie sub-genre. I find it has the ability to blend itself so well with various different elements, from as laugh out loud comedy, to genuine shock and terror. I will pre warn you that 'The Sadness' falls heavily on the shock and terror side of things, and it doesn't let up throughout. As time goes on, the zombie genre grows and adapts, each time seemingly increasing with ferocity and this is no different. Being easily one of the most savage and depraved zombie films I have seen in some time, and making some creative choices that I believe will change this sub-genre once again for the better.

The zombies themselves are sensational, integrating the elements of every zombie trope we have come to know from the silver screen. We see a mixture of demonic zombies, fast-rage style zombies and even consciously aware and functioning zombies. I found that combining all of these aspects into one makes for the most frightening take on the un-dead I have seen for some time, feeling much more realistic in premise than the average Romero style zombie we have become a custom to. I certainly think the set location and living in a post pandemic world certainly amplified those feelings for me.

The gore and violence is like nothing I have ever seen in a film like this, considering how gorey this sub-genre of horror is known for being, I don't think I was quite prepered for what unfolded. One scene in particular, on a train, had me staring jaw wide open for the full duration. Consisting of stabbings, eye gouges, flesh mutilation and strangulation all in quick succession, the visual effects team behind this do a phenomenal job of creating such realistic looking practical effects and make-up. That is not to say there isn't the odd moment of poorly done CGI scattering here and there, but in the grand scheme of things, this is nothing but flawless throughout. This is not going to be for everyone, so be warned it is not an easy watch at times.

There is a lot of suggested sexual assault throughout this film and there is one scene that is about as depraved as you can possibly imagine. I have made my stance very clear on the representation of sexual assault in horror films in the past. It is very rare that I can find it having any place in cinema, even when the subject matter is the more commonly known revenge style plot, I tend to more often than not stay away from those films. Whilst the subject matter could be considered as warranted here, and vital to the plots depiction of this virus, I personally felt it was unjust and done tastelessly for shock value. This film does not hold back in some scenes and it did negatively impact my overall experience with what had the potential to be a flawless zombie film.

Overall, this film really was fantastic and is certainly not 'over-hyped' in the way I have heared it described, featuring some beautiful cinematography that utilises some interesting shooting angles. The score was really impactful and manages the tension levels brilliantly throughout, building perfectly at the right moments. The casting was great. It is held up very strongly by the two leads Berant Zhu as Jim and Regina Lei as Kat, and more so by the main antagonist Tzu-Chiang Wang. 'The Sadness' brings some really unique ideas to the genre, once again evolving the way this zombie sub-genre is categorised. The minor issues I had with the sexual assault aspect of the plot have effected my overall score but should not deter you from giving this film the time it so rightly deserves. I would like to see a sequel to this, I feel like there are a few unanswered questions regarding the virus itself. However, as a stepping stone, this film does a phenomal job with its world building - something that I hope gets expanded upon in the future.



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