Yummy represents Lars Damoiseaux’s first feature-length film – an idiosyncratic horror flick in the vein of Train to Busan and Dead Set that transports the horror from the genre’s more traditional settings to somewhere quirky and different. At least, so the film likes to think.
Based on Damoiseaux and co-writer Eveline Hagenbeek’s 2016 short film Patient Zero, Yummy sees Alison (Maaike Neuville) preparing to undergo breast reduction surgery in a sketchy Eastern-European wellness centre. Before she can go under the knife however, an experimental skin rejuvenation treatment goes awry causing a zombie outbreak in the facility. Alongside her mostly-useless, hemophobic boyfriend Michael, beauty-obsessed mother Sylvia, and a handful of medical staff, Alison desperately tries to escape while ulterior motives and unethical medical practices come to light and threaten to tear the group apart.
First and foremost, the film is gory. A visceral and outrageous affair that will undoubtedly fill fans of splatter-horror with glee as they lap up every spurt of blood. Make-up effect artists Daphnée Beaulieux and Erwan Simon are rightly credited as the ‘heroes of the film’ as the zombies look terrifying, and the physical effects are suitably stomach-churning. Unfortunately, the strength of these effects also means that the schlocky CGI stands out even more in contrast, sadly detracting from the final product.
This is very much the case with a multitude of Yummy’s elements. The film is ripe for the subversion of established horror tropes -especially surrounding beauty, female body autonomy and sex. Despite initially looking to be investing in this subversion, Yummy slips too easily into tired old tropes that have long plagued the horror genre, along with an awkward love triangle, unexplained plot points, and terrible treatment of its female characters. Even the setting, for the claims of being a ‘wellness centre’, is still just another sterile hospital environment, no different from any other.
Of course, these aspects are never the top priority in a splatter-horror film like this, but it would have been refreshing if the writers were to attempt to do something a bit different. Instead, the film mindlessly lurches from one gore-ridden set piece to another, occasionally broken up by some loose moments of comedy.
For an 89-minute gore-fest with little input required from those watching, then fans of horror fans could do a lot worse; but those expecting anything will be sorely disappointed.
Available on-demand as part of Fantasia Festival from Thu 20 Aug 2020