I have a rule about not giving a film five-stars on first watch, but The Sadness tempts me.
The story opens on a young couple in bed. They laze a bit talking before starting their morning routines. The film shows instead of tells. He proves immature, but cares for her. She senses his immaturity, but loves him anyway. As he waits for her to dress, he spies something strange atop a neighboring roof.
He drives her to work. On the way, they pass a serious accident. Something seems strange, but they pass by too fast. He drops her at her office, then stops by a local diner for breakfast. Then hell breaks loose.
Director Rob Jabbaz has crafted the next evolution of the zombie picture. First, we had corpses animated via Voodoo, then George Romero gave them cannibalistic urges, then Zack Snyder gave them relentless speed. Now, Jabbaz has given them intelligence. These zombies don’t crave brains, they long to inflict the most sadistic torture they can imagine. And they retain their faculties to do so.
Yes, this proves a veiled adaptation of Garth Ennis’s Crossed comic book series and Jabbaz acknowledges the inspiration. I would have believed the material unfilmable, but Jabbaz proves me wrong.
He delivers a lean, brutal picture that still packs a wicked sense of humor. The over-the-top violence flirts with the cartoonish but remains horrifying. And I loved how the film eschews the trope of humans as the bigger monsters. Yes, some of the uninfected are horrible, but their infected selves prove even worse.
If World War II gave us the Universal Monsters, and the tumultuous 60s gave us The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby, and the Cold War 80s gave us Jason and Freddy, then Covid has given us The Sadness. Proof every cloud has a silver lining.