The Sadness

The Sadness ★★★★

I had a goal to see at least one native Taiwanese film while I'm here, and came across this poster at the movie theaters a few weeks ago. I knew pretty much nothing about it, but I thought the poster looked really good, and I liked the font of the Chinese text. I also saw that it had a 限制級 rating (18+), so curiosity really got the best of me. Seeing an injured woman on the poster made me think it was an action movie of some sorts, but nah... definitely a horror movie. A pandemic-themed one, no less.

This movie is visceral. It reminds me why I never watch horror movies; practically every horror movie scares me, even the shitty horror remakes from the early 2010s. Last year's It: Chapter Two scared the shit out of me. There's a reason I consider horror as one of my least favorite genres; every time something emotional happens in The Sadness, I don't feel those emotions, since I'm too busy preparing for something scary to happen. Thank god, this is a movie that prioritizes the brutality over emotions. Hearing fellow audience members go "哇!" or "我的天啊!" every few minutes was really fun. Definitely made it a less horrifying experience. But damn... this reminds me of an exploitation film, like Cannibal Holocaust or some shit. It's essentially a really well-polished B-movie/grindhouse flick where there are literally no boundaries; necrophilia, insane amounts of gore/blood, body dismemberment... it's all there. 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.

Like a lot of exploitation films, the violence usually serves some deeper meaning in the film. The film is basically about the government politicizing a pandemic and citizens not giving a single shit about a potential virus, which makes it ironic that this film is set in Taiwan since Taiwan literally handled an actual pandemic better than practically any other country in the world. It's definitely an alternate reality, but given that the director is probably not Taiwanese (that last name does not sound Asian at all), I found it to be a pretty decent (albeit extremely simplified) allegory for how foreign countries, especially the USA, is handling the current pandemic.

Interesting movie to watch as my first 2021 release.

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