Film: The Sadness (Ku bei)
Director: Rob Jabbaz
Writer: Rob Jabbaz
Starring: Berant Zhu, Regina Lei and Ying-Ru Chen
This is a movie that I heard buzz in the podcast circles that I’m in. It popped up on shows with voices I respect talking highly. It made me excited to check this out. There was no 2022 releases coming to my theaters that week, so I decided to watch this as a Featured Review for Journey with a Cinephile: A Horror Movie Podcast.
Synopsis: a young couple trying to reunite amid a city ravaged by a plague that turns its victims into deranged, bloodthirsty sadists.
We start this with the opening credits and seeing a virus attacking other cells. This simulation showing what happens as it spreads to the other cells, getting someone sick. We then meet our two leads in bed. There is Jim (Berant Zhu) and Kat (Regina Lei). I’m taking it that she must go to work. They get into a bit of a tiff when he potentially cancels their plans for the following week. It isn’t easy for her to get days off work and she is limited. He does advertising so he must take work when it comes.
I should set the stage. There is something called the Alvin Virus. Jim watches a video of a doctor being interviewed about it. There is a fear that it is going to mutate. It has symptoms that are like rabies. The interviewer mocks the doctor. This movie is quite poignant with the pandemic in the world it is set and mirroring what we went through. Jim sees someone on their roof that looks to be covered in blood. This person disappears and Jim talks to his neighbor, Mr. Lin (Ralf Chiu). He doesn’t believe this virus is as bad as they say and the media is blowing it out of portion.
Jim drives Kat to what I’m guessing is the subway station. She heads off to work, but on their drive there, they see some odd things. There are more police cars than normal and people that looked to be violently attacked. Jim gets a taste of this firsthand when he goes to a local shop for a coffee. An old woman comes in, vomits in someone’s face and attacks the cook. Jim doesn’t have his phone so heads home for it. This is just the beginning of the nightmare as he tries to get to Kat so they can escape. She has her own troubles though with a businessman, played by Tzu-Chiang Wang, on the train.
That is where I’ll leave my recap of the movie as well as introducing some important characters. What I want to start is with the world of the movie. There will be people that have their problems here. This movie is set in a world like our own. The virus that is in the movie is much more deadly than COVID. If you want more escapism when watching work with something to say, then avoid this. I think there is a good commentary here. It didn’t feel as in your face as it could be, but again, there could be some who think that way for that as well. I just wanted to preface this before delving deeper.
Where I want to go next is this virus and its effects. The title comes into play here. This virus causes those infected to leak from their eyes. It looks like it could be tears, but they also look like they could be more viscous. Since it makes them look like they’re crying, they’re thought to be sad. This virus takes away your inhibitions though. As the synopsis said, it makes them into sadists. They want to inflict pain on others. Conversely, they love when they’re hurt as well. It also makes people prone to sexual violence. Everyone is conscious of what they’re doing, they are driven to obtain pleasure. This makes for some horrific things that are said and did. I did hear someone bring up that the crying could be that small part inside them knowing what they’re doing is wrong and I kind of love that idea. It adds more depth to the depravity, in that they know what they’re doing is wrong, but can’t stop it.
That is where I’ll take this then. The effects in this are done mostly practical. There is a warning at the beginning about how gory this movie is. It doesn’t mess around there. I like the look of the blood we get. The gore is great. Seeing what these people do to inflict pain is interesting. There is a bit of CGI, but not enough to ruin things. If I have an issue, there are some wounds that needed more blood for realism purposes. That is a pet peeve of my mine to be honest. Regardless, this doesn’t have the most blood and guts we’ve seen. There are quite a few things that made me cringe. If you’re into this, I think you should see this movie.
With that discussed, I’ll get back to the story. This movie is playing mostly on the experience of its viewers for having lived during a pandemic. That makes me wonder how this will hold up down the line. I won’t worry about that here though. Outside of the virus changing people, we have Jim and Kat trying to get across the city and get back to each other. This is a road movie of sorts for him as he tries to avoid the infected. Kat on the other hand gets hit on while she is on the subway train by the businessman. He follows her from that point on. We don’t need a lot here and what we get works to keep things flowing. What I also like is that we are seeing at the beginning of the outbreak so very little is known. They do play with this and I dug what they did there.
The last bit for the story then would be the concept itself. There is going to be debates if this is a zombie movie or not. Now I listen to a podcast where there is a legit professor who has written about zombies. His classification for movies like 28 Days Later is that they are zombies but fall into the sub-category of infected. That is what we are getting here. They are infected with this virus. They no longer can control themselves and seek pleasure. That is where I fall on explaining the ‘monster’.
Next should be the acting. I thought that Zhu and Lei were good as our leads. They do well at giving enough information about them that I care when bad things are happening around them. That works. Ying-Ru Chen is solid as Molly. I thought that Wang makes for a good villain here. His introduction is spot on. I like the commentary of him trying to be a ‘nice guy’ and where it goes from there. Other than that, I thought the rest of the cast was solid. I like how the infected people look and acted. That helped strengthen this movie for me.
The last things to go into fall under filmmaking. I thought that the cinematography here was good. We get some interesting shots and set pieces. The hospital and the subway being two of them that I really liked. The latter is claustrophobic with what they do. It got my anxiety going for sure. I also think there is some implausible things, like people not getting infected at certain times. Not enough to ruin it but made me question. Other than that, I thought the soundtrack was good. It stood out to me a few times in good way.
In conclusion, I’m glad that I watched this movie. We get a different take on the zombie film with these people infected by a virus. The social commentary there is good. It is looking at the world we live in and how badly things are handled at times. It also explores some other things while the story itself is simple. I think that the acting is good in bringing the characters to life. The best performance for me is Wang as the businessman. The effects get in this movie are on point. There are slight hiccups with CGI and lack of blood with some wounds. I would give credit to the soundtrack and the cinematography is solid. I would say that this is a good movie. I will revisit this before the head of the year to see where it falls.
My Rating: 8.5 out of 10