Review By: Chuck Moore
“Vanity Kills” – a fine 80’s hit from the band ABC, but also the central theme in Yummy by writer/director Lars Damoiseaux and co-scripter Eveline Hagenbeek. Alison (Maaike Neuville) is a well endowed woman who, after years of back pain and the gawking of others, has decided that she wants a breast reduction. Her well-meaning boyfriend Michael (Bart Hollanders) is driving Alison and her mother Oksana (Taeke Nicolai) for a procedure of her own. We find out early that Michael is hemophobic when a dying animal explodes on the road. Then its gross outs on top of gross outs for the rest of the film.
When the group arrives at Klinika Krawczyk, it is immediately noted that something seems off with this place. The group are met by most of the rest of the players at this point – druggy Daniel (Benjamin Ramon), whose job at the hospital I never quite figured out, and Janja (Clara Cleymans), a primary figure in the shady business dealings at the clinic.
At its core, Yummy (which you can find streaming on Shudder in addition to playing Fantasia 2020) is an over the top zombie comedy movie that delights in trying to nauseate its viewers. Nearly everyone at the facility is there for some type of artificial beauty enhancement (anal bleaching, penis enlargement, tummy tucks) – with the lone exception being Alison. While she is being prepped for her surgery Michael is taken on a tour of the facility by Daniel. On the tour Michael inadvertently discovers and releases the facility’s “patient zero.” I won’t ruin the how and why the zombie was created, but this is the point in which all hell breaks loose. We see entrails, bile, a literal fat bomb and a penis treated in ways you would never wish to see. Did I mention that vanity kills?
Some of the attempts at humor fall victim to the visceral responses the visuals illicit, but I did laugh out loud at some of the moments. The idea under the surface that our obsession with beauty has made us all zombies could have been explored further and in funnier ways. The movie also seems to hint at the involvement of the 7 deadly sins and it might warrant a re-watch to try and place them all. While I enjoyed the performances, the characters act in “convenient” ways for the sake of the story which unfortunately makes most of them unlikable. I wanted to find a hero (someone like The Evil Dead’s Ash) to latch onto but the pacing and switching between character groups during the middle part of the movie made that difficult.
Yummy doesn’t reach the level of its predecessors like Dead Alive and The Re-Animator but there is something to be enjoyed here for people that like those films. If you are hemophobic like Michael, then I suggest you stay away.
If we hold a mirror up to ourselves the chaos of this film could be viewed as our brutal and sometimes comedic reflection. The pursuit of artificial beauty can make monsters of us all and it isn’t pretty.