Let’s be sad.
The Sadness is basically a Taiwanese retelling of the Crossed comics. It is the touching story of a young man and woman trying to find a way to reconnect amidst the busy hustle and bustle of their lives. He has a career opportunity, and she wants a vacation. Their neighbor has fresh basil and no one to cook with.
What will come of these people in this quirky romantic comedy?
You have to admit it would be pretty funny to just post that review and see how many people take the bait. Anyway, the above is true minus the raging mutated virus that has turned everyone in the city into psychopathic-cannibal-rapist-murderers.
This film already has a bit of a reputation as being one of the more extreme films ever made. This is sort of a reaction against the braindead zombies. Our infected are smart, cunning, and ruthless in their attempts to infect others and inflict pain. They seem to desire causing trauma as much as spreading the infection.
Our leads, Jim and Kat are separated due to work when the entire city falls apart. He is ambushed in a restaurant, and she is stalked by an infected creep who wants to assault her (he was creeping on her before infection). The film starts with a familiar pacing of people going about their normal lives with some weird stuff happening in the background.
It is odd how we can pass wrecks and such without really taking a minute to think about the impact.
Anyway, once all hell breaks loose the film keeps the pressure up for some time. There are obvious anxieties and commentaries about Covid and the problems of under-assuming a threat. Honestly, the whole thing is more or less a pastiche of anxieties about society and the state of people.
The infected are just people who have no inhibitions. The cruelty and viciousness of humanity is just unleashed here. Whether or not you think such an argument is deep is up to you. It is a point that horror has made for years. Here it might be made with the most aggression.
A moment that stands out for me is after an infected stabs a bunch of people on a subway he asks “did I break the record” as they subdue him. My guess is he is referring to the mass attack in Japan several years ago. We deal with mass murderers and shooters on a nearly daily basis in America, but it is usually just one person. Imagine if it was thousands in one day? This film tries to create that scenario.
Garth Ennis, the creator of Crossed said he wanted horror to be horrifying again. The Sadness, influenced by the comics, seems to want the same thing. We have sequences of unimaginable cruelty that seem paced in a way to top one another. How far will they go? I’m betting you won’t be able to guess.
The practical effects, set design, and major moments are all something else. There are no punches pulled here, and the care given to each scene is impressive. We have a gozno-over-the-top gorefest made with care and has a point about humanity. Imagine a video nasty with a good point and you’d be pretty close to this.
Our heroes react somewhat oddly to the scenes they see. Jim in particular seems to sort of freeze up before making any sort of move. I think more care was put into the infected than the non-infected. Is this a bad thing? I mean, honestly? So many zombie narratives become more about how people suck, and the zombies take a back-burner to just move the asshole people together. I feel a little disingenuous for knocking this one for fixing (or maybe over-fixing) a common issue in the genre.
The over-the-top gore will likely be a turn-off for a lot of folks. It is weird, the gore slows down enough to have human moments and make statements, so will the pure gore hounds go for this? Folks wanted a socially smart horror film may not want this, either. I loved it. I think a horror film that has the stomach to go this crazy and still have a purpose is impressive. I do wonder how many will agree.
This movie is a trip. Enjoy!