The Movie Waffler New Release Review - APPENDAGE | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - APPENDAGE

Appendage review Disney+
A strange growth detaches itself from a fashion designer and begins to take on human form.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Anna Zlokovic

Starring: Hadley Robinson, Kausar Mohammed, Emily Hampshire, Desmin Borges

Appendage poster

One of the more notable shorts featured in US streaming service Hulu's recent Huluween compilation of brief horror works was writer/director Anna Zlokovic's Appendage. That short saw Rachel Sennott play a young fashion designer crippled with self-doubt and anxiety having to face her tough boss, played by the great Eric Roberts. The young protagonist's fears physically manifest into an appendage that grows from her abdomen.

Zlokovic has now expanded her short to feature length, though sadly Sennott and Roberts haven't returned. This time Hadley Robinson takes the lead role of the stressed out seamstress, Hannah, with the Roberts role occupied by Desmin Borges.

Appendage review

The expansion of her short has resulted in Zlokovic delivering something of a hodge podge of horror sub-genres, with a narrative that begins in body-horror territory, introduces a Basket Case style evil twin plotline before going full Dostoevsky with a double plot and ending up as a Body Snatchers clone.

As in the original short, Hannah's anxiety leads to a growing lump on her tummy, which she's shocked to see sprout into a creature that looks a lot like the infamous lizard baby from '80s sci-fi mini-series V. The "baby" detaches itself from Hannah's body and continues to mock her insecurities until she gags it and ties it up in the basement of her apartment building.

Appendage review

A visit to a doctor leads Hannah down the Google rabbit hole of researching "Dual DNA syndrome." It seems Hannah had a twin in the womb that was consumed by her own foetus, and has now manifested itself into being. Hannah finds a support group for those suffering from DDS and learns that there are several people facing the same issue. Each of them similarly has an "appendage" locked away somewhere, which they must keep alive and sedated with drugs, or else they will perish themselves.

The ensuing story is the classic tale of a mousy protagonist having their life taken over by a more confident double of themselves, seen in everything from Dostoevsky's The Double to the Michael Cera vehicle Youth in Revolt. Appendage seems unsure whether or not it should play this scenario for laughs though. Much of the  movie plays it straight, but supporting characters like Borges' over the top fashion mogul and Kausar Mohammad as Esther, Hannah's sassy Asian friend (has anyone else noticed how the sassy Black friend trope has recently been replaced by the sassy Asian friend trope?) pitch the movie into more obvious comic territory. There are no real laugh out loud moments however, and we're left to wonder how much more successful the comedy side of Appendage might have been had Zlokovic retained the services of Sennott and Roberts.

Appendage review

Thrown into the mix is a subplot about Hannah's unresolved teenage issues with her mother, which never really goes anywhere. The movie's self-invented lore of "Appendages" gets a little confusing the more it unspools. But perhaps the biggest issue with Appendage as a horror movie is its lack of peril. Aside from Hannah we never get the sense that anyone is any real danger here, and there are none of the set-pieces you expect from the genre, not a single onscreen death.

Things pick up a bit with the introduction of Emily Hampshire as a fellow DDS survivor who gets suspiciously chummy with Hannah, but the film fails to fully exploit the Schitt's Creek star's comic talents. Given its central theme, there's a certain irony to a short film growing into an out of control double of itself.

Appendage is on Disney+ UK/ROI from October 18th.

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