Monday, 23 August 2010
Gone but not forgotten: missing 'The Appointment (1981)
There are some films that even now, at a time when some of the most obscure titles ever are readily available in plush re-mastered versions, have just slipped quietly into the cinematic ether. Usually there is good reason - they are works which failed to make any kind of impact, even at the time of release. They’re rarely classics, but have a couple of extraordinary moments, a mood or vibe, a stand out performance that means they are worthy of rediscovery, of seeking out in some form.
Lindsey C. Vicker’s The Appointment is one such film.
Even among the kind of feverish, committed film lunatics that I know, this is a film that has very little if any recognition. Vickers is a director I know nothing about, and from what I can gather it seems that he/she never made another film after this, which is a damn shame.
The less than watertight narrative deals with a supernatural entity, an unknown being that possesses an unremarkable English family and takes over their thoughts and actions with horrendous consequences. The late, beloved Edward Woodward plays the father.
The film itself is no lost masterpiece - it's slow and creaky at times - but is punctuated by sequences that are truly surreal, heightened and genuinely creepy, more so because most of the film has a flat TV movie-like quality, and the films overall mundane vibe only serves to heighten the freakiness when it occurs.
Dovetailing this film are two amazing sequences - the film's audacious opening (below) and a finale involving Woodward out of control in his car. Just for these moments alone The Appointment has more merit than your average crappy big studio possession pic.
Should I ever be in a position to call the shots and make my own features, this is a film I would love to have a go at remaking. I shouldn’t imagine the rights would be that expensive.
I would advise the - ahem - resourceful film fanatic to seek this film out. Fans of English wyrdness - MR James, Poe, Kneale - and hauntology buffs will riff on it I’m sure. I was surprised and delighted to see fragments of it intercut alongside other creepy arcane bits of British supernatural TV and film weirdness at a recent night in Dalston - as part of a performance by experimental DJs/musicians the Moon Wiring Club. Obviously those gentlemen know their arcane British cinema all too well.