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Appendage Review | Creepy Freaky Horror Fun


“You’re a pathetic freak,” groans the gruesome being chained to a post in the basement of an apartment building. The creepy thing — disfigured and looking like Gollum’s drinking buddy — is addressing Hannah, who has chained stashed the beast away. That doesn’t stop the creature from telling Hannah how awful she is, sentiments it possesses because it came from Hannah and has been feeding off her insecurities, growing stronger and more devious by the day.


These scenes and others even more creepy play out with freaky fun aplomb in Appendage, writer/director Anna Zlokovic’s feature film debut. Say what you will about this offbeat, darkly humorous horror thriller, but it’s certainly a wakeup call to pay attention to that gnawing critical voice inside of you, which can really get the better of you. In Appendage it does, and Hannah (Hadley Robinson of Little Women) is never the same.

The film, which is part of Hulu’s ambitious Huluween celebration, is must-see. It’s high up there on the Weird Meter but beyond its dark and twisted tone, Appendage is one of the more inventive and engaging outings you may stream this month.


It Lives Inside

Appendage starts out innocently enough. Hannah and Esther (Kausar Mohammed) are eager to make a dent with hip and hot fashion designer Cristean (Desmin Borges of You’re The Worst). For Hannah, the internship is a chance to start fresh and break free from her troubled past. There are plenty of Mommy issues back there, and Hannah’s perceived lack of emotional support has left a gaping touchy-feely wound in her heart. Careful there, Hannah. Poor girl initially has no clue what her abdominal cramps are really about. Can it have something to do with her mysterious birthmark? Either way, something is off.

But then it happens. Hannah discovers the true cause of her physical pain — an appendage. A hair-raising one at that. And it seems to be growing… and able to talk. The infant-like creature is simply grotesque (reminiscent of the film How to Get Ahead in Advertising), and Hannah is horrified. You will be, too. Hannah soon learns that her slimy and bug-eyed appendage is feeding off of her unsettled psyche, and when it births itself from her birthmark, Hannah finds herself in one big life crisis.

Related: 23 Best Horror Movies on Hulu to Watch Right Now

Director Anna Zlokovic knows how to play the audience. This is a horror comedy thriller, after all, and the camp is served up just fine. Fortunately, not too much. “Out there” premises aside, the filmmaker manages to maintain some groundedness. You’ll find yourself caring about what happens to Hannah and her appendage, whose body continues to grow.

When Hannah chains the beast up in the basement of her apartment building, it only seems to fuel its desire to showcase all of Hannah’s insecurities. But off to work she goes, hoping to impress the ever flamboyant Cristean, who keeps toying with his potential protegees. Elsewhere, Hannah attempts to find balance in her relationship with Kaelin (Brandon Mychal Smith of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), who notices a big change in Hannah’s behavior.

Hulu

Appendage turns twisted, dark, and perhaps even more fun when Hannah discovers that she isn’t alone with her dilemma. After stumbling upon a secret support group, she realizes there are others like her who also have appendages who mirror their own insecurities—“you’re worthless,” “you won’t amount to anything,” and all that. Think 12-step meeting for appendage hosts. Indeed, these folks may have been powerless over their companions, but there is a way through.

Related: Huluween: Every Spooky Show Streaming in October 2023

It is here where Hannah meets chic Claudia (Schitt’s Creek’s Emily Hampshire in fine form), who’s clad in black and eager to help her. Apparently, the appendages can be silenced if you inject them with a daily serum. Hannah likes that option and quickly becomes pals with Claudia, who walks her through the pitfalls of holding an appendage hostage. But even with this bright turn, Hannah can’t seem to silence her growing insecurities and occasional hallucinations. Her friendship with Esther sours. Her jealousy in her relationship with Kaelin mounts. Claudia attempts to put her at ease, sharing her own nightmarish journey. And on it goes.

Director Anna Zlokovic expanded her short film into what audiences experience today. It’s a commendable effort. While the film lacks all the big-budget frills, it’s surprisingly effective in its storytelling, especially with its bigger reveals — the appendage in its various eerie slime ball stages from infant to adult landing at the top of the list.

The film’s emotional beats are also handled well, offering a good balance between dark comedy and horror. Zlokovic no doubt was influenced by the likes of Stanley Kubrick (The Shining) and John Carpenter (Cujo, Christine), who knew how to walk the horror tightrope without losing their audience. Metaphors abound here, too. Perhaps too literally — inner beastly critique and all. The editing is on the mark, too. Bottom line: Appendage is a freaky ride, for sure. One that, like its ghoulish creature on screen, grows more interesting by the minute.

Appendage premiered on Hulu October 2.



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