Horror, Cult Movies, Exploitation Cinema, 70s Schlock, and more! Let’s start the weekend off by getting freaky! Or something like that…
“To politicize a virus is a terrible mistake!” [#OhMy2020]
Genre: Probably Beyond Your Boundaries Horror
Year Released: 2022
Where I Watched: Shudder
Synopsis: Jim and Kat are young, in love, and have a pretty sweet flat in Taiwan. But this morning, as Jim scooters Kat to the train station, they go by a violent traffic altercation. When Jim passes by again? Everyone is gone, and the cars are abandoned, doors open. Then the whole city goes literally insane in a snap…could this be due to a mutation of the pandemic that’s been plaguing Taiwan of late, affecting infected individuals ala rabies? Well now, that’s just soy-lib poppycock. Right? Sure. But Jim and Kat are trying to get to each other anyway, so let’s hope all the blood, perversion, and disturbing attacks are just fake news. (Yes, there are parallels to real world attitudes in this film. I just wanted to hit you over the head with that bit.)
Fabulous or Frustrating?: This is the only film on Shudder where I’ve noticed a note warning viewers of “graphic and extreme violence/gore“. And they mean that shit. As this film was influenced by Garth Ennis’ extreme horror comic Crossed? I decided to finish my lunch before hitting play on this one. Because less than ten minutes in, little things start get creepy. A touch of blood here, police restraining a bloody woman there… Then BOOM. By the fifteen minute mark, you’re in the splash zone, baby.
As for the story? Well, there is none, beyond “find my love” and “run your ass off”. The infected have eyes that are 100% jet black, which helps identify who’s who, but you’d never want to get close enough to check that out. Best to just figure the world Our Couple live in has gone completely bonkers, and roll with it. Because director Rob Jabbaz’s first feature film debut has zero fucks to give about your delicate sensibilities. Let me just break it down for you. If at any time during this movie you think yourself “Oh my God is that character going to [RADIO EDIT]?” Yes. That that character is definitely gonna [RADIO EDIT]. To eleven, baby.
The level of violence and gore vacillates between Anime Physics 101 (blood-letting) and Splatterpunk (body smooshes and whatnot). There were moments when I actually laughed, because geysers shoot out of folks. But mostly the casual expediency which infected can mow through a crowd is horrific. And little bits of art direction will get to you; an empty stroller covered in blood with bits of pulpy red on the seat immediately springs to mind, and will most likely star in my nightmares this fine evening. Characters trying to make it through their world encounter the gory after-effects of attacks, and the FX are absolutely incredible every single time. My mind immediately went to what might have happened in every instance. Your mind will too. Over and over again.
Oh man the parallels between COVID-19 and the Alvin virus in this film are not subtle. People not believing its severity, ignoring the possibility of mutation, not listen to the doctors? And then boom, fifteen minutes in? Blood and guts everywhere. I’m not saying that we’re all gonna suddenly go absolutely nuts and treat each other disgustingly IRL…okay, maybe I’m not that solid on my metaphors with this film. However, I can tell you that Sadness is dark, grim, gross, and absolutely not for casual filmgoers. If you get the slightest bit queasy about your eyes, your gonads, seeing insides on the outside, animal abuse, extreme child endangerment, and other violent things I won’t even hint at? Give this one a pass. But hardcore body horror fans /gorehounds won’t see anything on screen that they haven’t seen before; the French Extremity Movement and gore-focused grindhouse cover much of what you’ll see, blood-wise. It’s just that the vibe here is cranked to Abhorrent, thanks to the added sexual depravity element that puts the ick in squick.
So yeah, trigger warnings all up in here. Please, please believe me; if you’re sensitive to anything I just jotted down? Give this one a pass. If you’re sensitive, but curious? Check out a YouTube breakdown to get a hint at what this film gets into. (spookyastronauts has a breakdown that’s spoiler free and discusses rather than shows stuff, FWIW.) Just because I thought Sadness was a well done look at extreme horror, doesn’t mean this one’s for everyone. And that definitely isn’t a challenge, it’s a heads-up.
Freak-O-Meter: 4 out of 5 Really, REALLY Freaky Freaks