A viral pandemic turns people into violent and depraved maniacs in The Sadness. In Taiwan, there is concern over the spread of the Alvin virus, which sports similar characteristics to rabies, however, the government excuses it as being no more serious than the flu. Jim (Berant Zhu) and Kat (Regina Lei) are a couple who get up and go about their separate ways for a seemingly normal day. However, the virus suddenly mutates, and the infected lose control of their limbic systems, resulting in uninhibited violent acts and sexual depravity. Kat ends up trapped in the hospital, pursued by a sadistic ax-wielding businessman (Tzu-Chiang Wang) and Jim rushes to try and save her on time.
The Sadness is the feature film debut for Mississauga-born, Tawain-based filmmaker Rob Jabbaz. The plot of the film is not-so-subtly inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic and how governments set out to politicize the virus, as opposed to taking serious preventive measures. In what is possibly the worst-case scenario for a pandemic, the infected soon begin turning into red-eyed, grinning psychos, who take immense pleasure in committing extreme acts of rape and violence. The plot focuses on a young couple, who are separated when the chaos begins and fight to reunite and get to safety.
Most have been describing The Sadness as a zombie film, though it's a zombie film in the same way as Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later and David Cronenberg's Rabid, in how the “zombies” are crazed individuals, rather than the undead. I'm going to be blunt and say that The Sadness is not a pleasant viewing experience and despite being a celebration of practical violence and gore, it features reprehensible acts of both a violent and sexual nature that can be triggering for some. As such, I can't fully recommend The Sadness, no matter how much of a gorehound you are.