Review by Cole Groth
Few horror films this year are as strange as Anna Zlokovic’s Appendage. Adapted from her 2021 short film of the same name starring Rachel Sennott, this body horror film is a monstrously uncomfortable watch. Through the strange twists and turns, though, lies a satisfying ending that will leave horror fans happy.
Hannah (Hadley Robinson) is a young fashion designer. Thanks to a nasty boss (Desmin Borges), an overbearing mother (Deborah Rennard), and suspicions of an affair between her boyfriend (Brandon Mychal Smith) and best friend (Kausar Mohammad), the stress of her life leads to her appendix bursting. What appears to be an ordinary health crisis spirals out of control as a monster — linked to her being a twin in the womb — bursts out of her and threatens to ruin her life.
While the world seems grounded at first, it takes a freaky and silly turn as Hannah joins a group of others dealing with their appendages. Hannah’s life turns into a complete mess, and dealing with the stress of an external being that’s a literal monster doesn’t help. It’s a great exercise in body horror that doesn’t take itself too seriously, winding up a solidly entertaining journey. The screenplay is over the top and ends up embracing the metaphorical nature of Hannah’s appendage in a way that’s too on the nose.
If you’re streaming this, ensure you aren’t eating anything, as Appendage will make you lose your appetite. Writer/director Anna Zlokovic uses puppet work to enhance the viscerality of the appendage. The horror work is well done and disquieting. From a technical perspective, it’s a shame that it doesn’t stand out more. Beyond the puppeteering, the special effects, cinematography, score, editing, and writing are nothing to write home about. None of these elements is poorly done, but it could be much better overall.
The second act of the film is a tough one to watch. It tries to keep up the silliness of the original concept, but ends up being a little bit boring. On top of being disgusting, it’s hard to watch in a boring way. There’s a scene where Hannah picks at her nail and eventually rips open her skin a little bit. Appendage is derivative in that way. These scenes are disturbing, but often not in an original way. The predictability of Hannah’s life spiraling out of control isn’t too interesting because it’s not fun to watch.
In the realm of body horror, Anna Zlokovic's Appendage emerges as a truly peculiar and unsettling experience. Unfortunately, this is a movie that appeals to a very particular crowd. Outside of horror enthusiasts, this will fail to resonate with audiences. It winds up as a metaphor that goes for too long and would’ve been better served in the short form Zlokovic’s story was originally presented in.
Appendage is streaming on Hulu now.