By David Baldwin
Hannah (Hadley Robinson) is a young fashion designer barely keeping it together under the weight of mounting anxieties. She keeps having sharp pains in her stomach due to all of the stress and one night, the pains get so bad that a literal appendage with eyes and a mouth violently pushes itself out of her. This monstrous entity can talk too and it seems keen on fueling her anxieties.
I am not going to lie to you – I laughed out loud the moment the “Appendage” appears. Kudos to the behind-the-scenes team for doing all the effects practically, but this ghastly creature is more hilarious than it is terrifying. That is, until Writer/Director Anna Zlokovic pulls the rug out and Hannah’s life starts to get increasingly more twisted as a result of this literal growing manifestation of anxiety and self-doubt. Zlokovic has adapted from her own wicked Short Film here (starring SXSW Queen Rachel Sennott as Hannah) and makes some very interesting choices along the way. Sometimes they are predictable, sometimes unpredictable, and other times positively outrageous. Not all of it works unfortunately, with some subplots and ideas introduced and forgotten within the same breath. I admire the ridiculous swings the film takes though and its lean and mean running time. I just thought there would be more to it.
All of that said, Robinson is terrific, absolutely relishing in the chaotic journey Zlokovic puts Hannah through. She is very much lock in step with the tone of the picture and has a way with pivoting her emotions with chilling precision. Schitt’s Creek’s Emily Hampshire does well in her juicy supporting turn as Claudia, who has a special connection with Hannah, and I loved the standout work from Desmin Borges and Brandon Mychal Smith (who starred together on the criminally-underrated FX show You’re the Worst). I only wish they got even more to do here!
APPENDAGE screens at SXSW ’23 as follows:
Mar 11 at 11:15am at Alamo Lamar C
Mar 14 at 9:45pm at Alamo Lamar E
Mar 16 at 2:00pm at Alamo Lamar C
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