The Appointment [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - British Film Institute
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (8th July 2022).
The Film

"The Appointment" (1982)

Joanne (played by Samantha Weysom) is a seemingly average teenage girl who becomes upset that her father Ian (played by Edward Woodward) cannot attend her violin recital as it coincides with a sudden business trip. Though she expresses her feelings out loud, there is no movement in her father's feelings or schedule, causing a friction between them. While all seems like a minor family argument, both her father Ian and her mother Dianna (played by Jane Merrow) coincidentially see the same nightmare of Ian being involved in a bizarre car accident. But is it coincidence or is it prophetic?

"The Appointment" was the first feature film from Lindsey C. Vickers, a veteran assistant director at the BBC and for various feature films. He made his first narrative short film "The Lake" in 1978, a creepy supernatural story featuring a couple and their dog on a picnic by a mysterious lake. Although an effective short, it failed to generate directorial offers for other works. For his first feature length film, he was able to get financing from The National Coal Board, which previously helped with partial funding of major films such as "Chariots of Fire" and "Gandhi". For "The Appointment" they would become the major financier of the film, supporting it with £500,000 for Vickers' newly established First Principle Film Productions. The idea was not to market the film for theatrical distribution, but for television as the main target, though it would still be shot on 35mm film. The supernatural thriller script by Vickers was proposed to be the first of a series of works under the banner of "A Step in the Wrong Direction". Unfortunately there would be no series of films to be made and First Principle would only produce one film in their existence. It would also be Vicker's first and last feature film, as he would retire from the business a few years later. But was it all due to the film's content or something else?

"The Appointment" may share some ideas with "The Shining" for the supernatural elements and the ambiguous outcomes that are never fully explained in detail. Does the child hold some supernatural power and what is she capable of? If she does, does she realize that she has these powers? The character of Joanne is mostly played straight without much to hint at anything seriously unusual. She seems like the average fourteen year old that is going through the typical situation of being at the end of her childhood. She has her room decorated to her liking and has a genuine attachment to her parents, and she is not quite ready for adulthood seemingly. Her father is more preoccupied with his work than paying closer attention to her, and still treats her like a littlechild. The mother is in between as a sort of moderator with the issue, but looking at the details of the family dynamic, this feels closer to an average family drama and not a thriller at all. That is one of the problematic issues with "The Appointment". The characters and situation are just plain average without much at stake. A father that can't be at a recital is an age old plot point, but with other works there is usually an interesting B-story or depth to the family dynamic to be shown. While there are some excellent shots that establish the characters such as the montage showcasing the daughter's room, with her artistic merits and her awards for her music, but the family dynamic is a bit on the weak side as Joanne gets seemingly emotional over a fairly minor issue. Was there a specific reason she wanted him to see her at this particular recital? The parents discuss that Joanne is a bit of a loner and lives in her own little world, but there is not a lot to establish those facts either. But the most enticing portions of the film are not the family scenes, but the bookends with the opening scene and the lengthy third act.

The opening of the film has an event from three years prior, with a narrator (who is uncredited) detailing the disappearance of a violin playing schoolgirl named Sandy (who is also uncredited) in a very shocking and creepy sequence that almost seems like it is from a completely different movie. Vickers has said that it was an additional scene added later and was not scripted, in order to get a scene to entice initial viewers and not have them change channels during its broadcast. This is one an incredibly disturbing sequence and accentuated with the creepy echoing voices calling out the child's name and the music by composer Trevor Jones set the mood wonderfully. As for the final sequence which is a bit of a spoiler, connects the jigsaw pieces of the disjointed dreams that Ian and Dianne had with detail and intensity. There are some genuine scares and great stuntwork with the driving and crash scene that does go quite long, though it is apparent that there is more at play than just a simple case of losing control. The cinematography, the choreography and the special effects are all put to the test in the final sequence which is played out almost entirely without dialogue, and edited very well to give audiences quite a few surprises along the way. While these scenes have their highs, they almost work as standalone pieces as well. If there was no feature length and the opening scene and car scene were presented as two short films, they would both work. But again, seeing the film as a whole feels a bit on the weaker side in comparison to many other supernatural thriller features of the period.

As stated before, there is ambiguity to the happenings seen. Is there really something supernatural at play to cause the various happenings? Are they all in the minds of the characters? Is the final sequence all still part of the dream that Ian is having? As there are no answers to be said, it can make the audience feel confused or feeling thought-provoked with its horror. The unsettling scenes are actually well done, for example with the vicious dogs coming by the house at night, the shot of Joanne's head moving in the photograph, as well as a single shot trick scene of Dianne transforming into Joanne. Vickers had a great eye for the visual medium as seen here and wonderfully captured by veteran cinematographer Brian West. "The Appointment" has some interesting moments but as a whole feels incomplete with the weak family dynamic and having a number of things going unanswered. Samantha Weysom, who actually was fourteen years old like the character at the time had a few film and television roles on her resume at the time, but "The Appointment" would be the last major role as an actress, disappearing from the public eye. Woodward and Merrow on the other hand have had lengthy careers on screen for decades on, with Merror having nearly one hundred credits in her career on television and film and still enjoying a healthy career to this day, Woodward also has an impressive selection of works over his many years as an actor, though sadly he passed away in 2009 at the age of 79.

But the story of the film after its completion is the real mystery. It was screened at some festivals including the BAFTAs, yet no film prints have survived. The film was broadcast on television on both sides of the Atlantic and released on the VHS format, by Sony in the United States and by 3M in the United Kingdom, but quickly faded into obscurity. This also didn't lead to calls to direct for Vickers, who left the film business in the 1980s and went into a design and print franchise. In addition, the original film elements have sadly been lost over time and for many years the only way to see the film was through very rare videotapes from the 1980s and from online uploads taken from the standard definition videotapes. And now, forty years later, the film is getting a new lease on life with this newly remastered release on Blu-ray from the BFI, using the best available element which is a broadcast tape source.

Note this is a region B Blu-ray


The BFI presents the film in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio in 1080p AVC MPEG-4. The film suffered an unfortunate case in that the original 35mm film elements as well as any printed film elements have been lost over time. Even after an extensive search by the BFI including input from Vickers himself, each trail came to a dead end. The best surviving element that was found is a one-inch analogue broadcast tape held in the Sony Pictures archive for American television broadcast. Being a standard definition master, there is only so much that could be done to restore the video to anything close to how it originally looked. On the fortunate side, the transfer to video was done smoothly, and the video restoration has eliminated any serious issues. There are no issues of tracking, analog errors, frame drops, as well as few if any film related damage marks that are distracting. There is a bit of weaving, chroma noise, and instability to be seen, though it's quite minimal and should not affect viewing at all. Colors are fair, though obviously color space is much more on the limited side considering the NTSC color space. They are at least well balanced throughout and look fairly good. In comparison to the YouTube uploads of the film and clips coming from old videotape sources, this HD upscale is miles ahead of what has been seen for decades. It may not be ideal, but it is the best that can be done for the moment, and fans and keen viewers should be very pleased with the BFI's efforts in locating this nearly lost film and their video restoration.

The film's runtime is 89:15.


English LPCM 2.0 mono
The audio has also been mastered from the analog tape source. The sound is quite good here, with dialogue, music and effects being well balanced and restored. There are no issues with tape hiss, dropouts, or other tape related anomalies here. There may be some fidelity issues but thankfully, dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. This is again much better than the muddy and hissy sounding YouTube uploads that were previously available, though it does have its limitations.

There are optional English HoH subtitles for the main feature in a white font, which are well timed and easy to read.


Audio commentary by Lindsey Vickers, moderated by Vic Pratt (2022)
In this newly recorded commentary, Vickers is joined by the BFI's Vic Pratt to look back at the film exactly forty years later. Discussed are about the later shot shocking opening sequence, the establishing scenes of each character, the character traits, the actors and their performances, the supernatural elements and the ambiguity, working with dogs, the use of montage, sound effects, and the technical challenges of the lengthy final sequence. With Pratt moderating, there are thankfully no gaps in the track with a lot of great information being shared.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Vickers on Vickers" 2022 interview (41:27)
This newly recorded interview has Vickers discussing at length about his life and career. From his childhood love of going to the cinema, working as a projectionist at the BBC and as an uncredited assistant director on numerous films in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as his work on his two films as director, with "The Lake" and "The Appointment". He goes into some detail about the two films which are not covered in the commentaries, from the firing of producer Tom Sachs, the casting process, as well as his disappointment in his career as a filmmaker never taking off, and much more.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Another Outing: Jane Merrow on The Appointment" 2021 interview (16:27)
In this new interview, Merror discusses her life as an actress, her early breakthrough and later trouble finding work when moving to Hollywood, and also her work on "The Appointment". She recalls Vickers as a director, working with Woodward, and more.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Appointments Shared: Jan and Lindsey Vickers on The Appointment" 2022 interview (6:31)
This new interview has Lindsey and his wife Jan Vickers discussing their first encounter on a Hammer production, their life together, and their disappointment that "The Appointment" didn't lead to any more offers in the film business.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Framing The Appointment" 2022 interview with Lindsey Vickers (18:37)
Vic Pratt shows Vickers some vintage photographs from the shooting of "The Appointment", in which Vickers discusses some of the moments and other information, such as the elaborate car sequence, the opening scene, the dogs and more.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Remembering The Appointment" 2022 interview with assistant director Gregory Dark (10:07)
This new interview with Gregory Dark has him recalling the very difficult car sequence, with the heavy rain, the traffic contol, and the production schedule issues, as well as the work filming the dogs for "The Appointment".
in 1080i60 AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"The Lake" 1978 short by Lindsey Vickers (33:07)
"The Lake" (1978) features couple Barbara (played by Julie Peasgood) and Tony (played by Gene Foad), who drive up to a lake near an old countryside home from their youth for a nice quiet time with their dog Condor. They have a nice picnic and fun in the secluded area, but something around the corner seems to be disturbed by their presence. A very effective and mysterious supernatural short, “The Lake” is all about the creepiness of what is offscreen rather than what is in front, by never revealing the true monster of the area. Is there really a monster? Are all the disturbances and strange happenings by coincidence? The gorgeous countryside location with a small budget and cast of two plus the dog (Condor, the dog that also played a pivotal role in “The Omen” and later in "The Appointment"), “The Lake” has some excellent sequences that certainly will disturb audiences. The short was previously released as an extra on the BFI's "Short Sharp Shocks Volume 1" Blu-ray release and features the same transfer from that disc. The short was mastered from the original 35mm negative held at the BFI National Archive. It has a great looking transfer, with the color photography of the rural areas coming to life very beautifully. The eerie look of the house, the dark green of the Volkswagen, and skin tones of the actors look excellent, with very little damage to speak of. Film grain is always intact, and there are no issues of bad stability.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.85:1, in English LPCM 2.0 with optional English HoH subtitles

Audio commentary on “The Lake” by Lindsey Vickers, moderated by Vic Pratt
In this newly recorded commentary, Vickers recalls the making of his first short film with Pratt moderating. Discussed are about the idea and writing of the short, the casting, the effects work, the techniques utilized, the one regretful scene that Vickers wished to reshoot if he could have, and more. Note that this is a new commentary that is exclusive to this Blu-ray release.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Splashing Around: Julie Peasgood reflects on her time in The Lake" 2020 interview (17:52)
In this interview from 2020, actress Julie Peasgood discusses her life from dance stage to television and film, including her memorable turn in "The Lake". She recalls the production, the scarier moments, working with the small crew, and more. Note this was originally released as an extra on the BFI's "Short Sharp Shocks Volume 1" Blu-ray release.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

- "The Appointment"
-- Image Gallery (16:18)
-- Annotated Script (156 pages)
-- Script (84 pages)
- "The Lake"
-- Image Gallery (1:06)
-- Annotated Script (13 pages)
-- Script (11 pages)

Presented here are automated slideshow image galleries for both "The Appointment" and for "The Lake". There are black and white behind the scenes stills, newspaper and trade paper clippings, production notes, poster art, and video artwork for "The Appointment", along with some black and white and color behind the scenes stills and clippings for "The Lake". The aanotated script and script galleries are manual slideshow galleries.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4

A 32 page booklet is included. First is a written message from director Lindsey Vickers. Next is an essay from Vic Pratt that discusses the film's production, its fall into obscurity and his personal recollection seeing it at a young age. "Not Fade Away" is the next essay, written by the BFI's William Fowler about the new home video era of the 1980s. "Life Through the Lens" is another written piece by Lindsey Vickers, about his life in filmmaking and his eventual retirement from the business. Next are written biographies of Merrow and Woodward written by critic and writer Jon Dear. This is followed by full film credits, special features information, notes on the transfer, acknowledgements, and stills.

A clip of the opening sequence, courtesy of the BFI. This should indicate how the overall transfer looks on the Blu-ray.


This is the 44th release in BFI's Flipside line.
It is also a limited edition release, at 4,000 copies.


"The Appointment" does have its moments with its creepiness and shocks, though it does have some shortcomings with the ambiguity of the supernatural element and the fairly bland plot with the family. It is unfortunate that the original film materials are still lost and hopefully one day a print or the negative could be found to restore the film in a better state. The BFI have given the long neglected film a great new release on the Blu-ray format, with a good transfer and a great selection of extras as well. Recommended.

The Film: B- Video: B- Audio: B+ Extras: A Overall: B


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