If there was ever a movie title that serves as a bait and switch, look no further than PussyCake, the latest horror feature from Argentina’s Pablo Pares. For us raunchy Americans, you’d come in expecting a raunchy horror comedy with an abundance of T&A. Instead, the fast-paced flick provides Evil Dead 2 style gore with a intriguing time-traveling take on post-apocalyptic zombie survival.
The story introduces us to a four-woman indie band (aptly named PussyCake) hoping for a shot at stardom with their latest tour. Instead, they’re greeted at the first stop by the undead who happen to possess augmented strength. Calling the monsters “undead” doesn’t tell the full story — the origins remain shadowy outside of the infected entering our world via a time-machine mishap from a reckless scientist.
Fans of gross-out and body horror will appreciate the tweaks to the zombie rules. No bites are required to spread the virus — waterfall-heavy white bile is launched from the mouth into the faces of victims. There’s also a nice nod to Night of the Creeps with a large leech parasites that can control hosts by latching on the back of their heads. And with the zombie transformation being an excruciatingly slow process, the viewer are also introduced to parasitic eggs via a brutal, non-anesthesia removal.
Among the teenaged band, the heart and soul of PussyCake is the intimate relationship between frontwoman Elle and drummer Sara. A couple outside of the group, Sara is Elle’s biggest champion and emotional support system. Elle’s a domestic abuse survivor, making her prone to PTSD-style flashbacks when faced with unruly fans and later the zombies. It’s through Sara that she finds her strength to fight for her survival and the woman she loves. The two have the film’s most tender and emotionally packed moments, making it near impossible to not end up rooting for a “two final girl” ending despite the growing dread.
The one persistent issue throughout the film are how the “saves” are handled. There’s way too many moments where there’s dramatic, slow motion “pregnant pauses” which gives characters enough time to be saved. Once or twice can work, but when it’s overdone it takes you out of the atmosphere.
The most intriguing singular character is an unnamed “hunter” who also emerged from the time portal. His backstory isn’t discussed, but we receive hints from his Batman-style weapons, face guard and animus towards towards the infected that he’s survived the virus in his world. The easier narrative would’ve been to create an eventual team-up with the girls, but Pares opts use communication barriers to keep them at odds which smartly results in more gore and tension.
Clocking in under 90 minutes, PussyCake doesn’t take long to get going and delivers just enough gore without becoming a goofy spectacle, showcases female characters that aren’t flat, and enough zombie apocalyptic world freshness that a sequel could work.
PussyCake is available now on VOD and Screambox.