Appendage movie review & film summary (2023)
Movie Reviews

Appendage movie review & film summary (2023)

Hannah (Hadley Robinson) is a fashion designer speeding toward burn-out, thanks in part to the toxic environment of her snooty boss, Cristean (Desmin Borges), and his unquenchable standards. She works with her friend Esther (Kausar Mohammed), and they both have tattoos of a pulse, a succinct, meaningful image of how dedicated they are to each other’s well-being. But that bond is tested by the doubt in her head: not only is Hannah invested in trying to satisfy a toxic boss, but she starts to think that her six-month boyfriend, Kaelin (Brandon Mychal Smith), is cheating on her with Esther. Add her tension with her mother Stacy (Deborah Rennard), with whom she hides her true mental problems, and out bursts Hannah’s appendage, trying to steer Hannah mentally and later physically. 

In one of the story’s many amusing developments, it turns out that Hannah is very much not alone. She soon meets other people with appendages who can silence them daily using a serum. Among this group, she meets the sleek Claudia (Emily Hampshire), who fashions herself in all black and as not being like this batch of normies. Hannah thinks Claudia is her cool confidant, but that becomes another hazardous relationship once Hannah’s appendage gains more power, and joins a larger appendage conspiracy. 

Zlokovoic’s tone confidently moves between sincere emotional beats and horror-comedy, her story’s expanding scope taking after ‘80s directors like John Carpenter and Larry Cohen. Like with their grimy classics, the far-out genre pieces here are ways to highlight the story’s psychology, and then go deeper than a serious, less gooey project could. Zlokovic keeps the story active and slimy by always propping up its strangeness, including how Hannah’s appendage is one of many in the world and that it has more powers that are best revealed by the story itself. And like with a scene that uses close-ups and escalating edits to make Hannah picking at her nails as visceral as possible, “Appendage” knows how to up its grossness without becoming staid. 

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