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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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Throwback to Comic-Con Cape Town 2024

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Jacques van Zyl at Comic-Con Cape Town 2024 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre

The annual Comic-Con Cape Town 2024 was a blast! Come join on me, Jacques van Zyl on a throwback to a very marvelous event!

Guests at Comic-Con Cape Town 2024

The local South African movie guests included Aidan Scott, Albert Pretorius, Alexander Maniatis, Arno Greef, Bianca Oosthuizen, Brett Williams, Celeste Loots, Chioma Umeala, Grant Ross, Langley Kirkwood, Leroy Siyafa and Theo Le Ray.

International stars who made a turn were Lesley-Ann Brand, Sean Gunn and Veronica Taylor.

Lesley-Ann Brandt is famous for her role as Mazikeen on Lucifer. Sean Gunn portrays the role of Kraglin in the Guardians of the Galaxy. Veronica Taylor does the voice of Ash Ketchum in Pokemon.

Lesley-Ann Brandt as Mazikeen in Lucifer (IMDb)
Sean Gunn as Kraglin Obfonteri (Marvel)
Veronica Taylor (IMDb)

Overview of Programme

The annual Comic-Con Cape Town 2024 ran from 27 April 2024 to 1 May 2024. Here follows a brief overview of activities that caught my eye during the convention.

Saturday, 27 April 2024

Veronica Taylor, Lesley-Ann Brandt and Sean Gunn was available for photos and autographs. The cast from the One Piece television series on Netflix had a discussion panel and a spotlight session was held on the latest Boy Kills World movie.

Boy Kills World Official Trailer (RoadsideFlix)

The following question for discussion was posed to our fellow comic book artists, “Is traditional comic book art dead?” A panel was held on the concept of investing in comic books versus buying just to collect.

Games, games everywhere at Comic-Con Cape Town 2024

The day ended with an amazing after-dark event, the Pokemon quiz.

Sunday, 29 April 2024

Gavin Thomson, a South African cartoonist shared some insight on how to bring life to cartoons and a panel of comic book writers came to share valuable insights on writing comics. A workshop was hosting on helping you deal with stage fright.

Monday, 29 April 2024

Horror Monday delivered a good scare with cosplayers dressing up as some of their favorite horror character. I came in early on the day to help with horror decorations at the main entrances. A discussion was held on how to write horror. One of the attendees who presented on this topic was Paul Blom who coordinates the annual South African HorrorFest.

Jacques posing with Paul Andre Blom

A quiz was held on the Conjuring Universe and a tutorial was offered on how to do your make-up for cosplaying as a horror character. The art of toy photography was one of the topics of the day. Sean Gunn and Veronica Taylor was around for more photos and autographs. The one discussion that caught my eye was on how artists can overcome artificial intelligence since most jobs are phasing in the use of artificial intelligence as a tool.

A movie screening was held on the movie Fried Barry.

Fried Barry Official Trailer (Shudder)
Some horror decorations
More horror

Tuesday, 30 April 2024

This day was called Pajama Tuesday and visitors could grab their favorite sleepwear for the day. A Harry Potter quiz was held to test the knowledge of fellow muggles and wizards and a disco party brought much needed entertainment. Veronica Taylor was back for more photos and autographs. A session was held to guide new and upcoming writers on the approach to follow when writing for different genres.

Wednesday, 1 May 2024

Paul Roos Orchestra came to open the day with amazing music.

Paul Roos Orchestra at Comic-Con Cape Town 2024

The One Piece cast and Veronica Taylor made a last turn for the day. A Disney quiz was hosted to test everyone’s knowledge about our favorite Disney movies and characters. Brandon Reynolds came to share insights on how to do a comic book strip at and helpful advice was shared on becoming either a scriptwriter for movies or a stunt professional. The concept of artificial intelligence was touched on since it is a tool that is also used for creating content.

Tabletop games, dungeons and dragon sessions, Pokemon card games, Yu-Gi-Oh and Star Wars Unlimited session took place everyday at the Tabletop Game area. Video games were also on offer throughout the week from racing to fighting games.

A mobile application was developed to help guide fellow comic-con fans throughout the journey. Maps were provided at the reception area as well which made the journey easy throughout the convention.

Cosplayers Galore!!!

I had the chance to catch a few photos with some of the cosplayers at the comic convention. Many of the cosplayers went to the next level with their outfits.

To me, my X-Men

Here I am posing with cosplayers who dressed up as X-Men. As a huge Marvel, and X-Men fan in particular, I couldn’t pass an opportunity for a photo.

X-Men Cosplayers at Comic-Con (Jean Grey, Scarlet Witch, Jacques, Wolverine, Cyclops)
Jacques and Rogue.
Wolverine and Jacques

DC

There weren’t as many cosplayers dressing up as our favorite DC heroes and villains. As usual Batman put crime-fighting aside for a week to surprise us at Comic-Con.

Batman (DC) and Jacques
Scarecrow (DC) and Jacques

Horror Monday

Lunchtime I disappeared into the crowd as Ghostface from Scream to take a few photos with some of the cosplayers embracing their favorite horror character. Many cosplayers decided to do Pyramid Head from Silent Hill and we saw Freddy and Jason also run around at the convention.

Pinhead (Hellraiser) and Ghostface (Scream)
Jacques and The Nun (Conjuring Universe)
Pyramid Head (Silent Hill) and Jacques
Jacques and Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street)

We had other cosplayers who made a turn during the week. I found the Witcher, but sadly couldn’t toss a coin to him this time. I saw a few Mortal Kombat cosplayers as well. Even Tomb Raider decided to skip treasure hunting day and visit the convention.

The Witcher and Jacques
Round 1: Jacques versus Kitana (Mortal Kombat)
Round 2: Jacques, Raiden and Sonya (Mortal Kombat)
Jacques and Lara Croft / Tomb Raider

Comic-Con Cape Town 2024 was really amazing and I’m definitely looking forward to the next comic convention. The organizers went totally Super Saiyan with the programme and all the planned activities were next level.

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Film Festivals

The Dive (2023) is a Claustrophobic Thriller | FrightFest

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Maximilian Erlenwein’s The Dive stars Billions’ Louisa Krause and Medieval’s Sophie Lowe. It follows two sisters May (Krause) and Drew (Lowe) as they go on their yearly diving trip off a remote coast. However, disaster strikes, and the sisters find themselves underwater when a rock slide occurs. May gets trapped under some of the rocks and must instruct Drew on how to get out of the situation. What follows is Drew needing to find a solution to rescue her sister, while her air is slowly starting to run out.

The Dive brings us a claustrophobic thriller that uses the real-time oxygen supply to keep us on edge. It gets to highlight how remaining calm is the best way to survive. The Dive uses the real-time situation to show the desperate measures Drew must go through to rescue her sister. Along with the obstacles that have now been placed in her way.

The Dive [credit Augenschein Filmproduktion]

The Dive gets to set the pulsing racing and the blood pumping even though the characters remain incredibly calm. This gets to explore the dangers of diving in remote locations without any added safety measures. The movie involves problem-solving and flashbacks to the sister’s childhood getting into the hobby. Louisa Krause brings an unbelievably natural calm to her performance. While Sophie Lowe shows us the inside panic she is dealing with.

Over the recent years, we have seen a lot of movies with somebody trapped in or on the water being hunted by a predator. In this movie, we get to keep the situation down to the accident and the idea of trying to figure out a way out of the situation. This creates an edge-of-your-seat journey that keeps us wanting to see the next challenge they are facing. Think 127 Hours meets 47 Metres Down and you know exactly what you are facing.

The Dive is tense, suspenseful and gets the blood pumping as we join the race to survive.

Rating 4/5

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Dune: Part Two Where Will The Anticipated Premiere Land?

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Dune: Part Two is one of the most hyped movie releases for 2023. The latest announcement from the project, is that it will not premiere at the Venice Film Festival, unlike the first movie. This is due to the Visual Effects (VFX) team needing more time, which has prolonged the initial release date. Originally scheduled for 20th October 2023, “Dune: Part Two” will now be released November 3, 2023.

Dune: Part Two will see the return of Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgard, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Charlotte Rampling. In addition to the new cast members Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, Lea Seydoux, Christopher Walken, and Tim Blake Nelson.

The immediate successor to the 2021 film, it will be the second installment of a two-part film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune, and will cover approximately the second half of the book and possibly include aspects of Dune Messiah.

Dune 2021, Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya | Warner Bros. [Credit: Alamy Stock Photo]

The sequel will follow Paul Atreides (Chalamet) as he joins forces with Chani (Zendaya) and the Fremen to exact vengeance on the villains who murdered his family. Faced with a decision between the love of his life and the destiny of the universe, he attempts to avert a dreadful future that only he can predict.

Dune premiered at Venice Film Festival two years ago, followed by Toronto, New York and London Film Festivals. There is a possibility for the film to still premiere at other film festivals such as London Film Festival which will also run from 4th October to 15th October 2023. This also doesn’t mean the cast may not be present at the Venice Film Festival.

While Challengers starring: Zendaya, Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor directed by Luca Guadagnino announced a UK release on 15th September 2023,  the aim is perhaps do an initial premiere at Venice Film Festival. There is also potential of Wonka (2023) premiering at the Venice Film Festival despite the viral online leak of the trailer two weeks ago and announcing its UK release on 15th December 2023.

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