Those who struggle with negative self-talk know that it’s difficult to overcome. Simply saying nice things about oneself can help. Yet, even that process feels impossible if you are inclined to beat yourself up. Writer/Director Anna Zlokovic brings this struggle into the real world. In Appendage, a young woman is forced to confront the monster of self-doubt in a literal fashion. With some cool special effects, Appendage surprises. Yet it also struggles to keep its momentum as it languishes in sorrow.

Hannah (Hadley Robinson) struggles in her career as a fashion designer. While she works with her best friend Esther (Kausar Mohammed), their boss consistently beats them down. Hannah’s boyfriend (Brandon Mychal Smith) grows concerned for Hannah as she works long hours. As Hannah’s self-doubt continues to grow, growth begins to manifest on her side. Eventually, the growth grows a literal head, and it begins to voice her self-doubts. After finding a group of people with similar growths (Emily Hampshire), Hannah retreats from her former life.

Taking the imagery of cancer, Zlokovic makes a compelling case for how dangerous negative self-talk can become. The creatures that she creates are pretty upsetting to look at. Choosing to build them practically helps add to their grotesque nature, and she lays out the rules well.

However, the issue staring Appendage in the face is the success of Malignant. That feature received a much higher budget than Appendage, and Zlokovic never gets to fully embrace her ideas as a result. Her film also never reaches the scary heights of other creature features of its ilk, which makes the story feel more like a creature drama. Zlokovic pairs interesting ideas and imagery together, but Appendage sometimes feels like a retread.

The performances from Hampshire and Robinson do not hit the mark either. Both performers have shown talent in the past, but they seem a little miscast here. Where this issue falls, whether writing or performance, is not clear. Mohammed delivers precisely what is needed to play the caring best friend, and her tenacity gives her more agency than most of the ensemble. Where the other characters play into basic character features, she’s the one who elevates her material.

Appendage centers on a very cool concept. However, the execution is lacking. With long periods of inaction and a lack of scares, it rarely lives up to its horror DNA. Zlokovic builds an interesting world, but it stalls out without the budget to fully realize her vision. Sadly, the film never takes the next steps beyond its basic idea.

Alan’s Rating: 5/10

What do you think of Appendage? Let us know in the comments below! Hulu will release Appendage in 2023.

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