By Appointment Only (2007)
Directed by John Faust
All young Lyle wants is to see his girlfriend on a more frequent basis. Once each month she drops by for a quick fuck then vanishes for another thirty days. The stress of this relationship is really starting to crush down on him, but in this sort of rundown, empty town what are you going to do? The only other woman in sight is the waitress at the local diner and she is old enough to be Lyle's mother. Lucky for Lyle a cute young girl named Jane has just broken down in front of the same diner he is patronizing. Maybe this new blood will change things for the better ...
Jane is in search of a house she saw for sale somewhere along the barren highway that cuts through the desert town she's stuck in. A tow truck may not arrive for some time and she just has to meet the seller soon or lose out on the steal of a lifetime. With a little persuasion from the waitress Jane agrees to let Lyle drive her to the house. Everyone is just so helpful in this small town.
**WARNING! SPOILERS TO FOLLOW**
Lyle even helps here get duct taped to a chair once they arrive at the seemingly deserted mansion. What a great guy! Jane is invited to dinner as well. Gotta love hospitality like that. It is just too bad that the host of this feast is not too pleased to see that Jane was getting a little too close to Lyle on the truck ride over to the mansion. Wait a minute. The host, Lillian, is the old waitress from the diner and she is Lyle's mother?! Things don't look too good for the young miss Jane.
A slit across the neck and a glass of blood later the elderly Lillian rips off her hair and skin to reveal the youthful and beautiful girlfriend Lyle has been waiting for. Nothing quite like keeping it all in the family!
Fuck yeah! By Appointment Only was a surprise from newcomer John Faust. At only 20 minutes his film was able to make one dread the deserted areas of the U.S. more than any remake in recent memory could on a huge budget. Want to take a lesson from a real filmmaker, Platinum Dunes? By Appointment Only is not trying to revolutionize the genre, make a drawn out music video or act as a homage to other greats; it just wants to be its own entity.
For being 1/3 of an hour long this film sure did pack in a lot of character. Lyle (Matt Ryan) has both a boyish innocence and a very disturbing side all at once. At points it is almost like he wants Jane to escape as much as he wants to see his young lover again. What is a boy to do? Continue aiding in the slaying of young women or set them free and piss mother off royally? This sort of dynamic and complex affair could easily make for a feature length horror flick; not to mention the added run time would help to explain exactly why blood regenerates Lillian into a different woman.
Speaking of Lillian (Nancy Sinclair), there is a woman who can go from being a sweet lady of class and with a flip of a switch transform into a raging psycho driving by blood lust. Screw Stay Alive or Hostel: Part II, I'll take this type of Lady Bathory any day. Regardless of her age Lillian was still a very sexy character and why Lyle just didn't sleep with her is beyond me. He could see mom more often than her alter ego. Take what you can get, man.
The only two characters that didn't leave lasting impressions were Jane and the mysterious girlfriend. Jane's fate would have been a little more dramatic had she felt a little more flirtatious with Lyle. There just wasn't enough of a connection, failed or otherwise, between them to make Lillian's anger seem warranted.
The girlfriend on the other had a concrete but distant connection with Lyle; however, the lack of her screen time and an explanation of how their relationship came to be made it a little hard to follow why Lyle just didn't pack up his bags and leave after the infrequent visits. Maybe the situation is being looked at far too hard, like if we were to take some classic folk horror tale and dissect it -- the meaning and effect would wear off. In any case, John Faust made a movie that had a lasting effect and he has the awards to show for it.
If any film festivals in your local area are screening By Appointment Only, please see it. If this much talent can be expressed with only 20 minutes, just imagine what this director could do with a bigger budget and a longer run time.
4 1/2 out of 5
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