Holy shit, I was not prepared for this. My colleague Caleb, who has taken it upon himself to watch as many of Shudder's newest originals as he can, recommended this one to me, saying it was a wild, depraved nightmare. I think he undersold it, as this is one of the most vicious, unforgiving, psychotic, brutal gorefests I've ever seen. It has elements of 28 Days Later, but combines it with elements of The Purge and the recent Covid-19 pandemic, but amplifies the violence and blood by a thousand. At the very least, this will likely be Shudder's best of the year, if not the most frightening horror film of the year as well.
Our story begins in Taipei, in the home of a charming young couple. Kat (Lei) and Jim (Zhu) head off to work, not knowing that a supervirus has entered the city's population, and it's turning people into bloodthirsty, monstrous, sexual sadists who only want to kill, rape, and torture anyone they get their hands on. Things start out slow, with Kat shooting down a businessman's advances on the train, only for him to hunt her down relentlessly when he gets infected. He does something particularly heinous to another female character; something that will stay with me for a long time. Meanwhile, Jim tries to find his way back to Kat and ends up on an adventure of his own. The performances are amazing, the story is engaging and timely, and the practical effects are absolutely astonishing.
The Sadness is one of the most horrific films I've ever seen, and I praise the filmmakers' commitment to absolute carnage. I also love how socially relevant it is with its use of a growing pandemic that is being politicized. Everyone is ignoring the chaos until it's too late. If Covid had been a zombie thing, it would've gone down like this. Hopefully, without the rape.