I’m just going to cut right to the chase, without all the usual preamble and context, and say that Lindsey C. Vickers’ The Appointment absolutely floored me. I was utterly compelled and hypnotised by it, and ultimately disturbed and shaken to my core. It has jumped right into the ranks of my favourite films of its era. And until BFI’s new Blu-ray release, I’d never even heard of it.
Released as the 44th title in BFI’s Flipside range, celebrating ‘forgotten movies and filmmakers who would otherwise be in danger of disappearing from our screens forever’, The Appointment is presented in standard definition from the best possible source that remains – which is an often hazy VHS transfer with the associated muffled sound. But this actually compliments the release completely. Harking back to late night TV broadcasts that scarred us as kids, there’s a surprisingly eerie quality here that adds to the experience. The presentation is also reminiscent of early Brit PSAs like Lonely Water that give an added uncanny realism to proceedings, particularly in the film’s climactic scenes of road terror.
The film’s surreal, nightmarish delivery and ever-ratcheting, oppressive dread makes The Appointment a truly uncomfortable and disturbing viewing experience that grabs the viewer with its terrifying opening scene and doesn’t loosen its grip until the chilling final shot. The foreboding score and the slow-burning pace build a genuine sense of unease that gets under your skin more than any other horror I’ve seen recently. Other elements of the film that would otherwise detract from the film – Samantha Weysom’s somewhat hammy performance as daughter Joanne, occasionally clunky dialogue – all add to the off-kilter sense of unease that actually compliment the nightmarish and surrealist quality.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about The Appointment and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon; rather, I expect it to haunt my nightmares for many years to come. A genuinely unsettling and disturbing hidden gem of British horror.
The Appointment is available now on Blu-ray as part of BFI’s Flipside series
The Blu-ray is loaded with fascinating special features including a newly recorded audio commentary with writer/director Vickers, Vickers’ early short The Lake, a bounty of retrospective interview featurettes, and more.