The Grue-Crew review APPENDAGE (2023, Hulu) on Gruesome Magazine episode 472. Jeff Mohr from Decades of Horror: The Classic Era, Crystal Cleveland, the Livin6Dead6irl from Decades of Horror: 1980s, topnotch filmmaker Christopher G. Moore, lead news writer Dave Dreher, and Doc Rotten share their thoughts well-nigh this week’s frightening wing to streaming horror films.
Warning: possible spoilers without the initial impressions!
APPENDAGE (2023, Hulu)
Synopsis: A young malleate designer’s life spirals as her darkest inner thoughts manifest into something gruesome- that won’t stop growing.
- Available Streaming on Hulu whence October 2, 2023
- Written and Directed by: Anna Zlokovic
- Cast: Emily Hampshire, Hadley Robinson, Deborah Rennard, Brandon Mychal Smith, Desmin Borges, Kausar Mohammed, Annie Pisapia
Hannah (Hadley Robinson), a young fashion designer, seems fine on the surface but secretly struggles with debilitating self-doubt. As her relationship, work, and family all begin to pile up, she buries her reactions deep down instead of letting them out. Soon these buried feelings start to make Hannah physically sick and sprout into a ferocious growth on her body: The Appendage. As Hannah’s health declines, The Appendage begins to fuel her anxieties. It pokes every insecurity like an exposed nerve, exacerbating her intrusive thoughts of perceived lack of talent at work, her deteriorating relationships with her boyfriend and best friend, and her mom’s lack of love and understanding. Finally, at her breaking point, Hannah makes a shocking discovery about The Appendage, its purpose, and the fact that she isn’t alone.
The best part of Appendage is our lead character and the actress who brings her to life. She’s vulnerable, scared, and extremely anxious. She constantly beats herself and holds herself back in the process. Hannah chooses to torture herself instead of speaking her mind, and in that fear of speaking up, she buries her insecurities further…and they grow.
Robinson is a ball of nerves, constantly looking pained at the world around her and uncomfortable even in relationships that should bring her life. And that’s what this story needs to capture, and, ultimately, any person in the audience who has dealt with self-sabotage after intrusive thoughts will immediately see themselves in her. You’ll see your own vulnerability, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be screaming at Hannah to snap out of the anxiety spiral. And you’ll realize you’re really screaming at yourself.
Appendage uses practical effects perfectly to make Hannah’s other half look gross, absurd, and somehow even with the b-horror of it all, intimidating. The film captures intensity because of the interactions between Robinson’s Hannah and the ridiculous Appendage. Truthfully, the dread of this horror film comes from small body-snatcher moments and the repulsive nature of that titular parasite. While the film plays with and takes intrusive thoughts to their most expanded and intimidating ends, it does so while highlighting the internal moments that Hannah has to work through and the physical ones, too, as she has to fight against it all.
The only thing that holds Appendage back is dialogue that betrays the pacing, sometimes jumping ahead or even lagging behind the emotional momentum the rest of the film looks to execute. However, with moments that detract from the emotional impact pushed mainly into the second act, the film has a great start and a stellar finish which compensates for the minor hiccups.