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Fantasia 2021 | The Sadness Review

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Quite simply, The Sadness is possibly one of the bloodiest and most brutal films I have ever seen. But it’s absolutely brilliant! If you don’t like blood or gore, then this is definitely not the film for you. But if you can stomach all the guts and gore, then you are in for a treat. Given the huge range of genre films shown at the Fantasia Film Festival it’s not often that Fantasia themselves have to give a trigger warning but The Sadness is just so extreme that it warrants one and Fantasia warn viewers to ‘proceed with caution’ if watching this ultraviolent Taiwanese film.

The Sadness is set in a world combatting a pandemic. There’s a virus with flu-like symptoms, that the public isn’t taking seriously. Many think it’s just a hoax surrounding the upcoming election and so everyone lets their guard. However, this mysterious ‘Alvin Virus’ spontaneously mutates giving rise to a mind-altering plague that very much ought to be taken seriously. Chaos ensues as the infected are running about like zombies doing the most cruel and nasty things they can. Murder, rape, torture; everything goes. The age of order is gone, and there is only ‘The Sadness’.

Now if you’re thinking, hang on a minute, this whole virus thing during an election year that the public aren’t taking seriously sounds a bit familiar, well you’re right. The film was entirely developed over the course of 8 months during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The development process all happened so fast with it being written in the spring, shot in summer and completed by the end of winter. The Sadness certainly isn’t for everyone; if you don’t want to see lots of blood or if you don’t want to watch a film about a virus and a pandemic then you definitely shouldn’t watch it. But if you do want to see that sort of film then you’ll have an absolute blast of a time with it.

The people infected with the virus can’t control themselves and will do all sorts of crazy things. Despite the terror that comes from the infected people being extraordinarily entertaining, the film isn’t just watching people being violently killed and seeing blood spurt all over the place. At its centre, the film follows a young couple who are on opposite sides of the city trying to find and protect each other from the chaos happening around the city.

It gets right into the action without stopping to ease you in as within the first half hour one of the lead characters gets his fingers ripped off which is very quickly followed by one of the infected eating one of his severed fingers. Instantly we know this film isn’t playing around. It’s horrific and so incredibly brutal. It’s a terrifyingly tense rollercoaster ride and for the entire runtime you don’t know who’s safe and who’s going to be viciously ripped to pieces in the next scene.

The Sadness is the feature film directorial debut of Rob Jabbaz who does a superb job with his first film. He manages to create such a suspenseful, fast paced film that has you on the edge of your seat for the entire runtime. It will shock you right to your core with the insane level of blood and violence in it. No Hollywood film would ever dare to reach the levels that Jabbaz gets to in The Sadness and it’s really great to see something this cruel and violent and to get such great entertainment value from it.

Not only is the action incredible but the film has such a suspenseful atmosphere to it. Right after we first see the outbreak and the extent to which the infected can cause chaos, the film cuts to a train. The scene holds for quite some time with nothing going on, just some casual conversations on the underground. But the viewer knows what’s about to go down. You’re sat there, with your heart racing, waiting for an attack to happen. And even though you know what’s coming and what’s about to happen, the suspense is killing you the whole time.

The film doesn’t quite manage to sustain itself throughout and it does lose a bit of momentum as it goes on. It starts to add an element of sexual violence and whilst the whole film is disturbing and unsettling, the sexual violence really elevates that unnerving feeling perhaps just a bit too far.

The Sadness is a film told with a huge amount of skill and flair as well as buckets and buckets and even more buckets of fake blood. It’s insanely horrific and visceral and simply put, it is the most brutal film you will see this year.

The Sadness had its North American premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival 2021.

We spoke to writer/director Rob Jabbaz about The Sadness and you can read that interview HERE

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Adventure

Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest

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Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest is a deadly serious comedy film about friendship and arcade games that’ll surely put a smile on your face and tug at your heartstrings. Set at Bip Bip Bar, it tells the story of a group of unlikely heroes aka friends who help Kim Cannon Arm attempts to be the first in the world to play Gyruss an arcade machine from the early 80s for 100 consecutive hours. The film showcases these heroic outsiders with dreams about becoming legendary world record holders. 

Watching Kim and his friends embark on this quest was certainly like preparing for a marathon as Kim’s friends make him get an annual physical checkup from the doctor, It was easy to get swept up and share their excitement. Director Mads Hedegaard introduces these bunch of endearing misfits who truly make up a kind and supportive community. We learn several details about each of Kim’s friends including careers, favourite games, bands, family life and plenty more. Each are unique and the Documentary made me feel like I’d known this group my whole life. 

The film is also able to capture the gaming atmosphere as it blasts through the 80s with synths and neon lights, which created a stylised, exhilarating journey into Kim’s brain and the world of Gyruss. Montages and Iron maiden tracks also feature and “I Need a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler features, which to me represented each member and the story which was ultimately made for pure entertainment. 

Themes of achieving success is a presence in this documentary as it has scenes filled with pure joy, sentimental bliss and deep philosophical moments of the loss of a friend and acceptance. As we watch Kim make his way through hours and hours of his challenge we see his friends are always with him for comfort and to help keep track. They play Iron maiden music to boost his moral but its clear to me that with friends like this, Kim has already won. 

https://youtu.be/d-AidtIZF64

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Reviews

Last Night in Soho – It Lends Itself To The Big Screen Experience That We Have All Craved

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Edgar Wright returns to his British roots with his love letter to 1960’s London…

When the trailer was first released for Last Night in Soho, it looked far removed from anything that Edgar Wright had ever directed and that is proved with the final product. Wright perfectly captures the intense, chaotic energy that is London with its somewhat ‘seedy’ underbelly. It feels like a love letter from Wright to a location that is clearly very close to his heart.

At times thrilling, at times exciting and at times frightening, Last Night in Soho never felt boring nor did it outstay it’s welcome. The screenplay is excellent with some vintage moments of Wright’s comedic style and the soundtrack is fantastic, perfectly reflecting 1960’s in London.

Thomasin McKenzie in Last Night in Soho

When the audience is transported back to London in the 1960’s through the eyes of our protagonist, Eloise (McKenzie), the iconography really does make it feel as though you’re stood in the middle of Soho in the 60’s. Certainly a wonderful, and at times unsettling, experience for both the audience and our lead character.

Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Sandy and Matt Smith as Jack in Edgar Wright’s LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a Focus Features release. Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / Focus Features

As for the cast, they all fit perfectly into their designated roles. Youngsters Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy are our leading ladies and they perfect their roles to a tee. McKenzie goes from strength to strength with every role she does and Anya Taylor-Joy is beginning to find herself as the go to actress for horror. It will certainly be interesting to see the types of performances these two actresses put in for their next films.

Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy and Matt Smith in Last Night in Soho.

Matt Smith is also very good here, his career trajectory since Doctor Who has been a very interesting one and he really is beginning to find his feet now. Acting greats Terence Stamp and the late great Diana Rigg play a crucial part in the films proceedings. It was wonderful to see Rigg back on the big screen for one final time.

The last ten minutes did begin lose the immersion that was felt during the rest of the runtime however the twist is a very good one. It’s great to see Wright experimenting more with his filmmaking and it would be wonderful to see more of this style from him, he is clearly a filmmaker who is not adverse to taking risks with his craft. Definitely catch this in cinemas if you get the opportunity, it certainly lends itself well to the big screen experience that we have all craved!

Last Night in Soho is released in UK cinemas on the 29th of October.

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Drama

Mothers of the Revolution – They’ve Challenged World Leaders, Altered The Course Of History And Truly Inspired Millions

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Mothers of the Revolution tells the story of one of the longest protests in history. Between 1981 and 2000, thousands of women from around the world came together at Greenham Common to take a rightful stand against nuclear proliferation. This remarkable group of fearless women were shunned by the press and the media. Director Briar March reveals the women as the cold war heroes they truly were, she tells the story of these women through their eyes and though reenactments as they persisted arrests, condemnation and scorn. 



In the early 1980s, a young mother in Wales was alarmed like many about the UK government’s Campaign called “Protect And Survive”, which advised people to use the four minutes between the warning and a nuclear strike to stack suitcases full of objects like books to absorb the radiation. The Pressure and rising threat to their own families’ safety called for action and thus the Women for Life on Earth group was born.

From the conversation around the kitchen table in Wales, Karmen Thomas took action. She was instrumental in organising the initial protest which on the 5th of September 1981 these women marched from Wales too Berkshire to protest over the nuclear weapons being kept at RAF Greenham Common. Over 120 miles they become a living protest against the British Governments decision. The protest surly gathered momentum as when the reached Greenham Common permanent camps were set up. 

Many women joined the camp such as Chris Drake, a single mother and millworker who truly felt like she belonged and felt like she was born again. Young mothers were not a group who traditionally had their voices heard at the time and the press moved on to other issues they deemed more important, So the women organised Embrace The Base. A day in which the camp and women across the country who travelled up joined hands to form a human chain around the entire military base. 

This documentary is a celebration of Greenham such as its spirit and the effects, which were all worth celebrating. However the film also shows the difficult aspects such as the brutal evictions and assaults by the police force and soldiers. It truly was a Cold War drama/thriller with the tension of a soviet spy novel. It’s also the story of love especially for family and children , and of the commitment these women made to a higher cause. 



They’ve challenged world leaders, altered the course of history and truly inspired millions, it’s an emotional and empowering documentary. 

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