Fantasia Review: The Sadness

Jim on a moped being chased by the infected

It’s easy to forget that we, as humans, are just a slightly more intelligent kind of primate. While we might like to think of ourselves as distinct from the rest of the animal kingdom, when it comes down to it we are still animals. With all the needs and instincts of any other mammal. Although we have learned to live (relatively peacefully) in communities, these societies require a certain, often subconscious, repression of our baser instincts. In The Sadness, they run rampant.

Taiwan finds itself in the grip of a pandemic but one that seems to be almost benign. The ‘Alvin Virus’ appears to be no worse than the common cold. Ignoring the warnings of scientists, most people go about their lives as normal. When Kat (Regina Lei) and Jim (Berant Zhu) wake up that morning, it seems like just another ordinary day. However, a sudden mutation results in a rabies-like infection driving people to carry-out their most primal desires. The couple must find their way back to each other through the carnage.

The Sadness is a sick, slick and stylish horror which is bloody and brutal throughout. This alternative universe is very much a vision of Hell and pertinent given our present reality. Rob Jabbaz’s feature debut takes no prisoners and some of the violence can be hard to stomach. Indeed, it’s this dedication to depict the worst of humanity which makes The Sadness stand-out. A ‘midnight’ film in every sense of the word. A scathing critique of a culture and government. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

The Sadness screened at Fantasia International Film Festival.

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