Poster for Appendage. A woman looks up in fear as two miniature hands grab her face.

Filmmaker Anna Zlokovic Turns Hidden Anxiety Into Body Horror

Appendage, the new feature film from director Anna Zlokovic, takes a problem that’s more common than we think and pushes it into the realm of horror. The film, which is streaming on Hulu as part of Huluween 2023, focuses on Hannah (Hadley Robinson), a fashion designer who secretly struggles with anxiety. As Hannah deals with fraught relationships and a nightmarish boss, her anxiety slowly starts to take on a life of its own—literally.

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We sat down with Zlokovic to talk about Appendage, her experiences with anxiety, and how a body horror film can actually lead to compassion and acceptance.

Appendage originally started as a short film, which Zlokovic created for Hulu’s Bite Size Halloween in 2021. “I was feeling imposter syndrome and anxiety at the time, and I wanted to make a really quick movie about it,” she says, explaining that the idea also came out of a therapy session. “My therapist was like, ‘Let’s talk to your anxiety. Let’s make it a character. Let’s have a conversation with it. Let’s figure this out.’ I always thought that would be a really interesting movie that was relatable.”

Before Hannah’s anxiety manifests into its horrific final form, we see Hannah wrestling with some habits that many viewers will find familiar, like secretly fidgeting and picking at her fingernails under the table. “Fidgeting was a very interesting part of the process, because it’s something that most people don’t notice that you’re doing to yourself,” Zlokovic explains. “You might not see it on someone’s face, but [you can see it] if you just look under the table or out of frame. That’s really what the movie is about. It’s about being ashamed of what’s going on in your head, but then realizing that you’re not alone, and you can have compassion for yourself. It’s okay to have these thoughts.”

Check out our full interview below, and the rest of our interviews and videos on our Youtube channel!

(featured image: Hulu)

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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href=""></a>