The texture of a film like “Hostel” takes place on the assumption that the journey could be one of adventure and slight mystery before turning it into a cage of horrors. “Yummy”, a Midnighter that was supposed to play SxSW 2020 this year and was acquired by Shudder, has some interesting ideas. It starts off with a bang almost guaranteeing a rock n’ roll splatter fest set in a plastic surgery hospital gone wrong on the back roads of Eastern Europe’s crumbling facade. The humor initially has possibilities especially with the pre-credit sequence but just a simple path of that black comedy is not enough since it keys into a straighter line as the film goes on. The film by trying to be tongue in cheek takes itself almost too seriously. The plot follows a man and his girlfriend as well as her mother who are going to this “cheap” hospital to get some work done. The girlfriend is getting a breast reduction which the film tries to turn into the running joke of the piece. The boyfriend is a med school drop out who is awkward and gets sick at the sight of blood. The girls in the hospital are all beautiful but in a plastic way which is an interesting paradox whether this is just where the film was shot or it was a play on the beauty myth overall. It is never quite clear though this idea seems part of it. The aspect of beauty against the decay is striking.
The story devolves into a more simple approach with the reality of the “virus” per se which is vague in so many ways. Of course the flash point is caused by those from outside which begs the question why it would have never happened before. The characters are unique enough in their idiosyncrasies (like maybe a backwards “Poseidon”). The orderly plays to a trope but turns out to be more diabolical which is not altogether unexpected. The actual side effects of what is going on to the people seems to change over the course of the film. Shots at many times are done more for the fact they look cool or at least passable. One scene that functions like the “Jurassic Park” inlay in the cooler works well for what the viewer thinks will happen. The rabbit hole it goes down slaps back at slick fantasy horror scenarios. While not unique per se, it definitely would have gotten cheers at the Lamar in Austin. The eventual resolution works beautifully because it is just that direct. While the idea of what might be befall this world of the movie is insulated, the intelligence of the characters as well as their losing of limbs and digits regularly makes one feel that their fates were sealed long before.
By Tim Wassberg