Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"There's some gory comedy here that will appeal to a certain sort of genre fan, including one of the best uses for intestines since Machete."

The notion of cosmetic surgery and experimental skin treatments leading to a breach in the boundary between life and undeath has already enjoyed a good outing recently thanks to the Soska sisters' take on Rabid. Hot on its heels comes Yummy, a Belgian zomcom with a lot of blood, a dash of romance and not a whole lot going on upstairs. It's an affectionate tribute to House Of The Dead's much-loved hospital level (even managing to insert the line "don't come" and make it sound natural) but in a marketplace already crowded with shuffling, glassy-eyed hordes, it doesn't do enough to stand out.

The story begins with Alison (Maaike Neuville), her boyfriend Michael (Bart Hollanders, bearing a distinct resemblance to The Rocky Horror Picture Show's Brad) and her mother Sylvia (Annick Christiaens). Alison has chosen to visit an elite private clinic for a breast reduction (cue lots of groping and men not understanding how large breasts can possibly be a problem) whilst Sylvia, uncompromising when it comes to glamour, wants half a dozen different procedures. To its credit, the film avoids the easy route of mocking perceived vanity (more difficult to get away with as such surgeries become increasingly commonplace), instead focusing on the seedy nature of the operation right from the outset.

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Michael, who has spent a year in medical school before developing a phobia of blood (curiously overlooked later on), is concerned about the apparent lack of proper procedures. The presiding physician (Eric Godon) and his hyper-chic colleague Janja (Clara Cleymans) mutter to one another in (unsubtitled) Russian, a trick increasingly used in Western European films as code for dodgy business operations. Taking Michael on a tour of the clinic to distract him, orderly Daniel (Benjamin Ramon) boasts about how easy it is to pick up excitable young women at the clinic post-surgery, making no secret of his interest in Alison. Then he leaves Daniel alone just long enough for our earnest young hero to discover a naked young woman strapped to a gurney in a side room and, in a panic, remove the mask that's covering her face. This is a mistake.

Most of the rest of the film is concerned with running round the corridors, with the occasional siege and grisly death. There are efforts to uncover the source of the outbreak and to find a cure whilst, inevitably, a military presence builds up around the clinic - something that will be no surprise to fans catching the film at Fantasia. Characters are lightly drawn and adequately acted. The only really interesting one is Daniel, whose arc just gets darker over time yet who comes across like a real person, not just horror stock material.

There's some gory comedy here that will appeal to a certain sort of genre fan, including one of the best uses for intestines since Machete. There's also quite a bit of ogling of breasts, though in this regard the film isn't as exploitative as you might expect, and it shows a lot of sympathy to female characters facing objectification. Alison and Michael make for sweet, if not always very interesting lead characters, and both are plucky enough to keep pushing the story forwards in situations that seem hopeless. For the most part, though, this feels more like a video game than a film, lacking the cinematic punch that might have made it memorable.

Reviewed on: 17 Aug 2020
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When a young man releases a woman he finds strapped to a gurney in a shade plastic surgery clinic, he doesn't realise that he's unleashing a zombie plague.

Director: Lars Damoiseaux

Writer: Lars Damoiseaux, Eveline Hagenbeek

Starring: Maaike Neuville, Bart Hollanders, Benjamin Ramon, Clara Cleymans, Annick Christiaens, Eric Godon

Year: 2019

Runtime: 96 minutes

Country: Belgium


Fantasia 2020

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