Content Warning: This review contains discussion of sexual assault
SXSW 2020 Midnighter Yummy was picked up by Shudder, the horror, thriller, and supernatural streaming service that has proven to be home for festival favorites. Directed by Lars Damoiseaux and starring Maaike Neuville, Bart Hollanders, Benjamin Ramon, Clara Cleymans, and Joshua Rubin, Yummy is a gratuitous zombie film that needs to come with quite a few content warnings.
In the film, a young couple travels to a shady Eastern European hospital for plastic surgery. The young woman wants a breast reduction. Her mother comes along for yet another face-lift. Wandering through an abandoned ward, the boyfriend stumbles upon a young woman gagged and strapped to an operating table; she’s the result of experimental rejuvenation treatment. He frees her but doesn’t realize she’s patient zero, and he just caused the outbreak of a virus that will change the doctors, patients, and his mother-in-law into bloodthirsty zombies.
Now, Yummy’s narrative is nonsensical, but it does lean into just about every zombie movie trope you can think of, and most are executed well. But, if you press play on this film, narrative and tropes shouldn’t be what you’re here for, you should be here for the gratuitous amount of blood, body horror, and balls to the wall kills that will make many splatter film fans excited. And of course, given that the events of the film take place in a plastic surgery clinic, there is plenty of nudity – including a gnarly moment with, well, a package.
To be clear, Yummy is going to be a hit with a certain type of horror genre fan, and it’s clear why it was selected for the SXSW Midnighters showcase. That said, given the state of one of the industries I’m in and the reveals of rampant sexual assault and harassment, I couldn’t have watched this film at the worst time. There are multiple rape jokes in the film and instances of attempted rape that immediately made it hard to watch.
Throw in the mutilation of human bodies, including a zombie eating out a patient, and it’s enough to trigger anyone with trauma. That said, nothing is explicitly shown, but the fact that one of the main characters is a rapist just makes the film frustrating, especially when he’s alone with women.
I truly find this film hard to critique because on all accounts it’s the kind of b-horror gratuity and violence that is usually not a problem for me and will probably reach cult status at some point down the line. But this week, this year, it’s just too much. Writing this review has probably been one of the most conflicted moments of my career because I find many of the elements of this film truly wonderful. The music, the elements of subversion, and a truly gutting but stellar ending are a standout.
That said, I had to stop the film multiple times to come back to it because of some of the kills and mutilations which is a testament to the work of the special effects team on Yummy. There are moments of visceral reality that immediately turn into cartoonish exaggerations, and it all combines wonderfully.
If anything, I’m shocked at myself for not appreciating the film more, given my love of the hyper-violent and gory films this genre has to offer. And, in truth, maybe the fact that I’m fighting my own criticisms is proof enough that this is an amazing addition to Shudder’s line-up. Sadly, I can’t give this film a blanket recommendation like I usually do.
That said, fans of the hyper-violent, fans with strong stomachs, and fans of absurdity that maintains a truly bleak core will be drawn to Yummy and it will find a home among horror fans. But, for those who have a hard time watching moments of attempted sexual assault or just hearing rape jokes in general, this one is coming filled with content warnings.
Yummy is available exclusively on Shudder and AMC+.
Fans of the hyper-violent, fans with strong stomachs, and fans of absurdity that maintains a truly bleak core will be drawn to Yummy and it will find a home among horror fans. But, for those who have a hard time watching moments of attempted sexual assault or just hearing rape jokes in general, this one is coming filled with content warnings.