Back when I reviewed 2008’s Martyrs, I called the film something in-between “a unique novelty poised as a tremendous test of toughness or sanctioned barbarism that satisfied the sadistics amongst the mortified audience members.” Had I not seen Martyrs, that distinction would’ve easily went to “The Sadness” with splattered blood because Christ!
Gore and mayhem have been a staple for zombie movies since the beginning of time; it’s almost a crime to not have something resonating that. But MAN, they do not hold back here. More violent, brutal and depraved from what we usually get, there’s an over-the-top and extraordinary amount of carnage and bloodshed on display further buoyed by the straightforward approach to the bleak, panic-fueled mood established thanks to an unsettling focus on realistic visual effects and the drab, hostile atmosphere set in stone very eerily on.
The narrative Rob Jabbez constructs around all this violence is about as basic as you can get for any zombie or disaster movie but similar to Greenland, I like how it tends to showcase a more natural progression on how these events would play out as opposed to other movies, including crafting together characters you can actually care about propelled by actors who murder it every time they’re on-screen. Ambient music and sound design build enough suspense in supplying the beats necessary to make the audience feel uncomfortable and with such an imaginative sadism to the cinematography here where the close-up shots cause serious physical discomfort, it’s a miracle that the pacing is tightly knitted to where no scenes drag for too long or skim by too short.
In most zombie movies, the real emotional core of these stories aren’t the zombies but the humans that lose their humanity along the way. Here, those lines practically fall in one of the same as the zombies aren’t mindless beings but humanized slaves to the dark stinky underbelly of their worst traits; a nice comparison to the book series ‘Crossed’ while expanding on the rather corrosive fragility of our inner selves. The major issue holding it back is Jabbez tries WAY harder than necessary to squeeze in a message amongst all of this. And maybe I wouldn’t have minded that much if his direction had a silver of finesse to probably combine both components together seamlessly; as is, it feels like a third party forcing its way into an event uninvited and switching up the rules last minute.
The best that I could think of for a message is simply despite our best intentions or Noble deeds, we’re all eventually reduced down to the dumb, panicky dangerous animals we always were since the beginning of time and the lack of a cure or explanation as to how anyone can randomly become infected is meant to exemplify how you never really know when or why something will just snap inside of someone.
Again, it’s the best I can manage but it’s like trying to slip in three separate equations for a calculus problem you already answered right: it works well on its own, message or no message. No need to go overboard.