Monday, October 02, 2023

Appendage, on Hulu

Parasites often develop a lot of attitude in movies, like Bad Milo or How to Get Ahead in Advertising. The growth coming out of Hannah’s birthmark displays especially nasty tendencies. She quickly learns it poses a greater danger than she initially suspected in screenwriter-director Anna Zlokovic’s Appendage, which premieres today on Hulu.

Hannah has a lot of issues, even before her birthmark starts doing a lot of gross, puss-related body horror stuff. According to the doctor, it might be related to remnant DNA of a twin that died in-utero. Then something monstrous literally crawls out of it. Whatever it is, the thing takes perverse delight in preying on Hannah’s guilt and insecurities. Thanks to the always reliable internet, she finds a support group for people in similar circumstances. At this point,
Appendage takes a dramatic turn from body horror to a very different subgenre—and it is a wickedly clever and effective downshift.

It would be spoilery to spell out much more, but
Appendage is massively creepy and subversively fun, in a way body horror can never be. Zlokovic’s screenplay (expanded from a six-minute short) skewers support groups and millennial angst. However, it is worth noting the abusive fashion designer she works for could never behave in such a manner if he worked in mainstream corporate American. Frankly, people working in film and TV often project the sins of their own industry on the greater society, when they are really the worst offenders.

Be that as it may, Zlokovic successfully springs several surprises on viewers. Hadley Robinson and Emily Hampshire also contribute greatly to her efforts, portraying Hannah and her support group friend Claudia. Again, it is hard to explain without spoilers, but they must cover a lot of ground as the circumstances shift. Hampshire, in particular, might just give one of the top ten horror movie performances of the year.

Kausar Mohammed and Brandon Mychal Smith are also solid as Hannah’s bestie and her boyfriend, who are increasingly alarmed by her strange behavior. Zlokovic keeps the bedlam reasonably grounded and executes it all with a fair amount of style. The “Appendage” prosthetic looks suitably disgusting and its skill for playing mind games is highly unsettling, making it memorable “monster.” Highly recommended for horror fans of multiple subgenres,
Appendage is now streaming on Hulu.