Sunday, September 26, 2021

Fantastic Fest ’21: The Sadness

These zombies are fast and angry. You might also call them bad touchers. It turns out the same virus over-stimulating the infecteds’ aggression centers has a similar effect on their sex drives. That means anyone they get their hands on is in for some rather nasty treatment in director-screenwriter Rob Jabbaz’s brutal zombie movie The Sadness, which screens during this year’s Fantastic Fest.

Jim a is a nice enough Taiwanese freelancer, who is trying not to screw-up his relationship with Kat—and he was probably failing. However, all bets are off this fateful day. After dropping her off the train station, a zombie apocalypse breaks out, both on the streets he must navigate and the subway car she is stuck on.

Apparently, the zombie outbreak is the result of the new Alvin virus mutating in unexpected ways. Those who are afflicted do not completely lose their consciousness. It just brings out the absolute worst in people, especially their grudges and sadistic tendencies. As a result, the pervy commuter zombie is just as eager to find Kat again as Jim is.

Jabbaz’s screenplay is a pretty standard zombie outbreak narrative—zombies suddenly attack and society reacts in confusion. What distinguishes it are the deranged extremes Jabbaz takes it to. Seriously, this film could never appear on network television, because there would be nothing left to broadcast. These are probably the most violent zombies in the history of zombie movies, but what makes them disturbing is how they reflect the former humans’ darkest impulses.

Regina makes Kat a resilient zombie-style “final girl” that we can get behind and root for. As Jim, Berant Zhu also keeps up with the madness fairly well. However, Tzu-Chiang Wang is scary as heck as the businessman zombie. It really is a great screen-villain performance, because he truly develops a sinister persona, instead of merely zombie-walking about with some makeup applications.

This is not the film to introduce young monster movie
aficionados to the zombie sub-genre. It outdoes just about all of its predecessors with its massive buckets of gore. Jabbaz takes no prisoners and offers no quarter, just like real zombies wouldn’t. Recommended for zombie fans in the mood for a stiffer shot of the undead, The Sadness screens this Wednesday (9/29) during Fantastic Fest.