Yummy [Fantasia International Film Festival Review]

Here's something I haven't seen before – a horror movie centered around breast reduction surgery. The Belgian productionYummy, which screened at the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival, has wild violence, as well as a streak of dark humor running right down the center. The plot follows the age-old “plague run amok” template, but there's freshness in how it carries out that template. I laughed and squirmed throughout, and you can't ask for much more from a picture like this.

Alison (Maaike Neuville) is on her way to a clinic for breast reduction surgery. She's tired of back problems and leering looks from men. Accompanying her are boyfriend Michael (Bart Hollanders) and image-conscious mother Oksana (Taeke Nicolai). An ominous vibe is present from the moment they arrive. The clinic, as Michael puts it, “looked better on the website.” The employees are a touch weird, and the medical team's definition of best practices feels a bit off. As Alison is on the table waiting for her procedure, Michael – who's wandering around – inadvertently unleashes a confined patient. A faulty rejuvenation treatment has caused this woman to become a zombie-like flesh-eater. Once out, she begins snacking on people, putting everyone else in the hospital at great risk, including Alison.

Yummy satirizes the obsession with plastic surgery and beauty treatments. Have you ever seen someone – a celebrity, at least – who went under the knife and came out looking worse? That's the kind of thing this movie skewers. A subplot involves a famous guy who comes to the clinic for penis enlargement. His private parts get set ablaze in one scene, which is the just the beginning of his genital problems. Another supporting character has come for a face peel, only to have the stuff burn so badly that she's left running through the hospital looking for water. All this is set against the backdrop of more and more people becoming infected with the zombie plague.

Amid the gore and gruesomeness are interesting human dynamics. Oksana is there to get a face-lift. She ridicules her daughter's desire to make her breasts smaller. We can tell that Alison resents the ideas about beauty her mom has put into her head. Michael, meanwhile, vows to love Alison no matter what. Another cool idea is that he's afraid of blood. Having him constantly come in contact with the bloody remains of people makes the attempt to escape the hospital even more harrowing.

Director Lars Damoiseaux keeps the pace brisk, ensuring that Yummy moves like a rocket. He expertly balances the blood/gore with the humor, sometimes presenting them in the same beat. The story, which he co-wrote, takes an unexpected turn at the very end, leading to a final shot that really drives home the themes. If you have a strong stomach that can handle outrageous violence, the movie is a wicked little delight.

Yummy is unrated, but contains nudity, adult language, and bloody violence. The running time is 1 hour and 28 minutes.