REVIEW: The Sadness (2021)

dir. Rob Jabbaz

Following a viral pandemic in which the symptoms seemed venial, a rabies-like virus begins to mutate, transforming the affected into vicious and sadistic humanoid creatures, committing sick and violent acts upon each other. Amongst the chaos a couple fight to reunite whilst trying to avoid the infection and the onslaught of maniacal people hellbent on destroying the city. 

Any film that features a pandemic in this day and age is going to garner one of either two reactions from audiences: either a big fat “Nope. No. Too Real” or a morbid curiosity. The Sadness relishes in the latter, creating an almost sado-masochistic relationship with its audiences by showing gut-wrenching onscreen brutality that’s impossible to look away from. And although the story starts out the same as every other viral outbreak film, from about half an hour in it delivers a sharp fist to the face that leaves viewers experiencing the most visceral of reactions.

The level of gore is abundant and downright amazing – leaving one to only speculate what budget the filmmakers had for the buckets of fake blood – whilst the special effects artists should be commended and then some. Despite this impressiveness however the level of violence and barrage of sexual assault within the film at times feels a bit redundant: rather than being used to convey any sort of morality message or offer a comment on society, it largely comes across as courting pure shock factor.  

That said there are some interesting observations, for example on the pandemic-based fears of an urban society and the moral breakdown of a population in crisis. And if FrightFest was a classical symphony, The Sadness would be its striking and evocative crescendo, closing the festival in a flurry of blood, viscera and bleakness. 

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ygraine Hackett-Cantabrana

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