My notes on Yummy (2019), which has screened/streamed via the Fantasia Festival.
This splattery Belgian zombie comedy would like to remind you of Re-Animator or Braindead – or, perhaps more achievably, Death Warmed Up – but comes out about on a level with that previous product of the Low Countries Rabid Grannies. It’s relentlessly gruesome and cynical, but also numbingly repetitive and unaffecting – forgetting to include much comedy in the grand guignol hijinx, though it’s plainly not a serious movie. It has a good look, effective use of music, and one or two half-clever ideas, but nothing’s really developed – except the heroine’s chest – and the ending could stand as a handy working definition of mean-spirited.
Harking back to the era of Hostel, when post-communist Eastern Europe became the go-to location for paranoid horror films, this follows a trio of Belgians – Alison (Maaike Neuville), her boyfriend Michael (Bart Hollanders) and her mother Sylvia (Annick Christiaens) – who travel to an unspecified Eastern European country to visit an unethical, unsanitary plastic surgery factory where Alison wants to get breast reduction to cut down on the harassment she gets from random men everywhere she goes and Sylvia wants another helping of face-lifting, anal bleaching, tummy-tucking, etc. Michael, who quit medical school because he can’t stand the sight of blood, is unsure about either of these procedures and spooked by the creepy, gross staff of the hospital. Wandering in the traditionally grimy basements, he finds a masked woman strapped to a gurney and sets her free – only she’s a lipless zombie, and is soon spreading the infection throughout the cast.
Plenty of sub-plots involve dolts who suffer horrible fates – the TV star here for penis enlargement has various abuses inflicted on his new dick – and sinister staff members who all turn out to be thorough rotters, including mad surgeon Dr K (Eric Godon), icy blonde administrator Janja (Clara Cleymans, maybe homaging the nurse from Dead and Buried) and punkish, treacherous intern Daniel (Benjamin Ramon). There’s even a weird mutant frog thing on the premises, just for random lulz. Hollanders and Neuville try to register as human beings in the middle of the splat – and go through that bit of business with an engagement ring which has been overused since it featured in the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – but occasional moments of sympathy just serve to make everything that happens more unnecessary than usual. Director Lars Damoseaux, who co-wrote with Eveline Hagenbeek, enthusiastically sloshes gut buckets all over the floor, but it’s got to the point in horror where ‘extreme’ has become passé.
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