Reviewed By Jay Seaver
Posted 08/14/20 10:17:54

"Lots of nasty gore, not nearly enough of everything else."
3 stars (Average)

SCREENING AT THE 2020 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: If enthusiastic gore and violence is your first priority for a horror movie, "Yummy" has you covered; the filmmakers spill a lot of blood and build some gross prosthetics, and they don't waste a lot of time getting from one gruesome gag to the next. That's not quite all it's got, but it's close, and while that may be enough for those just looking for an hour and a half of splatter, it's the sort of horror movie with a lot of places where it could have been great if the filmmakers had run with something a little bit more.

It quickly introduces the audience to Alison (Maaike Neuville), her boyfriend Michael (Bart Hollanders), and her mother Sylvia (Annick Christiaens), driving to a clinic in Eastern Europe where Alison can get inexpensive breast reduction surgery and Sylvia can get some more stereotypical procedures. Michael, who studied to be a doctor before discovering he can't stand the sight of blood, finds the low-rent place suspicious, from namesake surgeon Dr. Krawczyk (Eric Godon) to administrator Janja (Clara Cleymans) to travel coordinator Daniel (Benjamin Ramon), and he's not wrong: There's an occasional zombifying side-effect to Krawczyk's experimental stem-cell formula, and when one gets loose, Alison and company are in a particularly bad situation.

The sight of that first zombie is the first of many times a viewer may raise an intrigued eyebrow; she's topless, super-perky, toned, and smooth, and while "sexy zombies" isn't necessarily the most creative idea out there, you can do something with it, flipping the script by having perfect-looking but hollowed-out undead chasing folks who look impaired or maimed in some way, but it's a passing fancy, with moments of role-reversal though it's never a consistent-enough theme to become the movie's thing. There's a weird creature that may or may not be connected to the zombies, because why not, and a thread about Michael being kind of clumsy and having bad luck that kind of lurks without getting a really great moment, especially since director Lars Damiseaux and co-writer Eveline Hagenbeek seem to be playing with the idea of Michael being more useful as a healer than a fighter at one point, another potentially interesting twist.

It doesn't go anywhere, though, and the script is generally sloppy in other ways. The way things play out with the various amoral staff members at the hospital is completely predictable, as is the way all of the tension between Alison and her mother plays out, except that there's not really much time to let it play out in the in-between moments so that it has any heft at all. There's a lot of "hey, what?" in the film's last act with a couple of cases where it makes no sense for one person to get from point A to point B faster than someone else, and a lot of random "ironic" violence that seems less about making an impact than because the filmmakers are building the movie around bodies hitting the floor and not any other sort of impact.

It's a bummer, because the cast could do more - Maaike Neuville, Bart Hollanders, and Annick Christiaens play off each other well, even with their dialogue being rough (the subtitles have Alison and Michael calling each other "pookie bear" in every other sentence with the Dutch dialogue not far off, and it's annoyingly repetitive). Eric Godon, Clara Cleymans, and Benjamin Ramon play their sleazy characters in entertaining fashion, and the rest of the at-least-seemingly more expendable cast fill things out well. They're fun to watch work, especially Neuville and Hollanders.

And if you come for the gore, you won't be disappointed. Even without the inevitable opening tease, Damiseaux and company get things started quickly and have plenty of fun mutilating their cast even in ways that aren't particularly zombie-related. They go for the nasty larger-than-life bit whenever they can and their mayhem never looks flimsy or half-hearted. There's still a lot of the thing where zombies seem to be able to take a lot of damage even though they rip apart fairly, but living humans seem impressively solid.

Gorehounds will likely dig <I>Yummy</I> and they should; it's got a lot of impressively messy practical effects (and even the CGI bits look decent). It's just that there are so many bits visible that could have made "Yummy" a favorite for other reasons, but they don't get nearly the amount of effort that the other pieces do.

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