Joanne – The Appointment 1981
There are a few things that keep The Appointment from being a great film. It’s extremely British, the characters are extremely restrained, the pace is mostly sluggish, and it concerns itself with a great deal of daily minutia. It stars Edward Woodward, which is problematic, because the last time he did a horror film, it was the legendary Wicker Man, so his appearance creates an unfair expectation that this film cannot match. Also, in trying to be ambiguous, it comes off as a tad underwritten.
With all of that said, there is an awful lot going for this film as well.
Joanne is Ian’s daughter, an incredibly spoiled adolescent who is accustomed to being the sole figure of attention in her father’s life, even to the exclusion of his wife, Dianna. During the course of the film, she is the teenage girl everyone is afraid that they’re going to have.
Ian is going to her violin recital, the capstone of her entire schooling, when at the last second Ian finds out that he has to go on a business trip and cannot make it. Joanne begins a campaign of manipulation, petulance and outright defiance to get him to go, but she doesn’t realize that her mother is sick of her conduct and is applying equal pressure to Ian as well. Eventually, Ian holds firm. He is going on the business trip.
But the Appointment is, after all, a horror film. Joanne has imaginary friends she talks to, friends that resemble the Black Dogs of British legend. They slip in at night to her. And if she wants someone dead (like the violinist that outshone her) they die mysteriously. At some point in the film, Joanne makes it clear to something that she wants her dad to die.
The Appointment is about the unshakeable feeling of disease, the idea that something is terribly wrong, even though everything seems normal around. Ian has a very typical business trip, at least for a while, but even he notices something imperceptible, but sinister. It becomes apparent that The Appointment is not a case if, but when, and behind it all is one very thoughtless, very selfish, very evil little girl.