THE SADNESS (2021) Reviews of Taiwanese transgressive horror

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The Sadness is a 2021 Taiwanese science fiction horror film about a deadly virus that causes human beings to mutate into zombies.

Written and directed by Canadian-born Rob Jabbaz – making his feature debut – the movie stars Berant Zhu (We Are Champions; How to Train Our Dragon), Regina, Tzu-Chiang Wang, Ralf Chiu and Ying-Ru Chen.

Many human beings have been infected by a new type of virus and begin to mutate, and attack innocent people. Meanwhile, others try to find a cure. With the spread of the new virus, people all over the world are becoming numb to the situation. No one believes that the mutation of the virus and the Tibet crisis is coming. Junzhe and his girlfriend Kai Ting discuss when the epidemic will end, but try to continue their lives as normal.

One morning, after Junzhe drives Kai Ting to work they become separated, having witnessed attacks by unknown thugs: including the breakfast shop owner being beaten and bitten by his grandmother, the neighbour next door running into the street with a weapon, and frequent rabid riots in various places.

Panic and screams spread throughout the city. Infected anomalous humans are everywhere. Who can survive the horror of violence and killing? How does Junzhe find a way to survive and save his beloved girlfriend who is missing?


“The genre’s not really my cup of tea, personally, but the director knew what he was setting out to do, and he surpassed my expectations on a technical and storytelling level with flying colors.” Big Chungus

“It quickly becomes apparent that The Sadness refuses to adhere to the average viral horror movie. Jabbaz keeps a death grip on the pulse of the current climate, delivering a rage-filled manifesto that aims to every cinematic taboo possible and tests your gag reflex in the process. It’s transgressive horror of the highest, most aggressive order.” Bloody Disgusting

“The film doesn’t quite manage to sustain itself throughout and it does lose a bit of momentum as it goes on […] The Sadness is a film told with a huge amount of skill and flair as well as buckets and buckets and even more buckets of fake blood. It’s insanely horrific and visceral and simply put, it is the most brutal film you will see this year.” Coastal House Media

“It’s essentially a really well-polished B-movie/grindhouse flick where there are literally no boundaries […] Characters are paper-thin, and every plot point is just an excuse for violence to happen. It’s not totally my thing, but I can really admire it.” Jason Huang

“There’s no sugar-coating The Sadness, it is an absolutely brutal film that seems expressly constructed to shock and offend. With a kinetic force that rarely allows the audience to slow down and gather its thoughts about the bloody mayhem spilling from every frame, The Sadness is anything but subtle, which is both a blessing and its biggest drawback.” Screen Anarchy

“This reviewer is no fan of the genre, but somehow, between the smooth production, excellent death metal-meets Taiwanese temple music soundtrack, fast-paced action and not-so-subtle digs at the government and humanity, The Sadness (哭悲) proved to be mildly entertaining.” Tapei Times

“Jabbaz does a great job as the director, creating wonderful establishing shots. His screenplay contains interesting characters, nail-biting situations and lots and lots of violence. His dark story offers an insight into the brutality mankind is capable of. The makeup work deserves a great deal of praise.” UK Film Review

The Sadness was released in Taiwan on January 22, 2021.

Original title:
哭悲 “Cry”

Technical details:
1 hour 39 minutes
Audio: D-Cinema 48kHz 5.1

Teaser trailer:

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