Fantasia Film Festival: The Sadness (哭悲) Review

The Sadness

The Sadness is such a fascinating take on the zombie genre, but believe me when I tell you that it’s not for everyone. Writer/director Rob Jabbaz has put together a film that goes to the absolute extremes of sensational violence, zombie sex, gore, and outright mayhem. It’s basically a modern-day exploitation film. For those that don’t know, exploitation films “claim to warn viewers about the consequences of these problems, but in most cases their style, narrative, and inferences celebrate (or ‘exploit’) the problem as much as critiquing it.” That’s what Jabbaz does with The Sadness.

The Sadness follows a young couple on the wrong side of a Taiwanese city. When unspeakable violence breaks out in the country, the couple must traverse the chaos to reunite and save each other from the madness.

The sensational violence and outlandish sexual content is a device to critique the current state of the pandemic—especially if you’re living in America. For example, The Sadness features characters who believe the virus is a hoax or it was released by the government. It’s as if you’re looking in a mirror. As you can imagine, The Sadness is an extreme “what if” scenario should COVID mutate and get worse. What transpires is a shocking and poignant look at the state of humanity nowadays.


The Sadness is such a fascinating take on the zombie genre, but believe me when I tell you that it’s not for everyone.


The problem inherently lies with the way this message is presented to audiences. The zombies themselves are different than what we’re normally used to. The Alvin virus affects the limbic system in our brains and heightens our aggression and sexual drive. Thus, it forces us to do reprehensible things. As I said, The Sadness is not for everyone. It’s most definitely not for the faint of heart. While extreme violence is quite common for zombie films, it’s the sexual content that’ll turn people off to this flick. 

In The Sadness, zombies will rape you, want to be abused, or simply have orgies. There’s even an unsettling scene where a zombie pleasures himself by having sex with a victim’s empty eye socket. This is just one of the many WTF moments you’ll find in this flick. At the same time, these exploitative situations aren’t even the kind of campy stuff you find in Grindhouse movies. The sex and violence in the flick are meant to be disturbing and realistic. It’s just not fun to watch at all. 

All in all, The Sadness is a zombie flick that you’ve never seen before—for better or worse. It’s a particularly nasty flick where the gratuitous violence and sexual content are in the same vein as Ruggero Deodato (Cannibal Holocaust) or Srđan Spasojević (A Serbian Film). The shock-horror genre has its passionate fanbase, and The Sadness is right up their alley. However, general audiences expecting a thrilling zombie movie are in for a horrible surprise. 

Rating: 1.5/5 atoms

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1702 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.

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