By JAMES TUCKER
Starring: Maaike Neuville, Bart Hollanders, Benjamin Ramon
Directed by Lars Damoiseaux
Written by Lars Damoiseaux, Eveline Hagenbeek
Produced by 10.80 Films, A Team Productions, Everstory Productions
It’s not normally my M.O. to review new releases, but every now and then a film looks so promising that I can’t resist. YUMMY was not one of those films. To be perfectly honest, I thought I was in for a paint-by-numbers zombie apocalypse film that would check off all the required tropes and plot twists for the genre, and then leave me hungry for more. Instead, YUMMY wound up being one of the most insanely enjoyable films I’ve watched for this column, being only the second 10 out of 10 in this column’s history! Let me explain…
In YUMMY, Alison (Maaike Neuville) and Michael (Bart Hollanders) go with Alison’s mother (Annick Christiaens) to a seedy looking clinic to get plastic surgery done on the down low. Alison is tired of being objectified by every man who sees her, and she wants to get a breast reduction done; her mom disapproves, berating her amidst planning to have her own surgery done, but Michael supports her and says it doesn’t matter what she looks like. When they get there, however, and Alison is led away by doctors who don’t appear to be following EU health and safety guidelines, Michael is led through the hospital by Daniel (Benjamin Ramon), who shoots himself up with drugs and lets Michael explore on his own. When Michael stumbles across a room where a naked woman is tied down to a bed with a guard over her mouth, he accidentally sets her free. What follows is, well, exactly what you would expect. And as the film goes on… well, a whole lot more.
“YUMMY is a bit like a Chuck Palahniuk take on a Cronenberg film, an extreme, gory take on the horrors of plastic surgery.”
Let me say this about YUMMY out of the gate: you have seen this movie before, but you probably haven’t seen it executed so flawlessly or in such an over the top fashion in a long, long time. If you’ve seen Cronenberg’s Rabid (or the Soska Sisters’ remake of it), you’re already familiar with the plot of this one: a team of doctors performs ethically questionable experiments in search of the secret of eternal youth, and accidentally creates a zombie virus that breaks out and consumes everything. It takes clichés from zombie apocalypse films and body horror films (with a focus on plastic surgery) alike and morphs them into something entirely its own. The protagonist of this film, Alison, actually wants to get plastic surgery done to reduce her breast size; the film shows us that everywhere she goes she is subjected to the male gaze and harassed, and so she wants to get a reduction done to blend in, to avoid attracting attention to herself. However, YUMMY demonstrates very quickly that plastic surgery isn’t the way to avoid objectification, as the surgeons and their assistants in turn objectify and prey on the women they’re supposed to be “helping.” From the doctor who spends far too long groping Alison’s breasts and tries to convince her to make them larger to the aide who corners her and attempts to rape her in the third act, the business of plastic surgery is one depicted as monopolized by men looking out for their own desires, a tool of the patriarchy. It’s unnatural, man-made, exercising itself only to harm others and doomed to be brought down by its own devices; the device in this case being a zombie virus and weird Basket Case knockoffs.
But let’s set aside the messaging of this film for a moment and talk about how batshit crazy it is. This film features a scene with reverse liposuction that would make Chuck Palahniuk proud (if you know, you know), human fetus collections, Basket Case creatures that hiss and bite people, a man amputating his arm via paper shredder, cutting off fingers with a glasses lens, using intestines as a rope, an infected would-be rapist with a biting kink, and (my personal favorite) a man’s recently enlarged dong getting set on fire before being frozen via fire extinguisher, only to have the tip of it break off. And to be perfectly honest, that isn’t even all this film has to offer; there’s so many more things I could choose to put here, but I’d rather you see the film (and how insane it can get) for yourself. YUMMY was beautifully shot, with the director even getting creative by intercutting scenes with security cam footage showing things getting worse around the hospital. All of the acting was phenomenal, the character work was solid, and for the most part the film managed to avoid overdone zombie apocalypse genre clichés; there were a couple that came into play here, but not in a way I found obnoxious or overly derivative. The ending closed us out on a rather nihilistic note, bringing the high-octane third act to a heart-dropping end. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t love that too.
YUMMY is exactly the kind of film this column was meant to review. It takes an old premise and makes it feel fresh via a compelling story and characters, saturating it in gore and taking each horrifying scenario to the most extreme end possible. I’m giving YUMMY a 10 out of 10. Believe me, I didn’t expect to enjoy this film nearly as much as I did, but it’s near perfect: the batshit factor really pushed this one WAY over the top for me. I highly recommend it: unless, that is, you’re not the kind to enjoy a little splatterpunk.
Up next, we review the Etheria Film Festival showcase. It’s gonna be a big one. I hope to see you all there.