By Nick Mead | October 25, 2008

Eliciting more laughs than scares from the get-go, “By Appointment Only” fails to impress within the first minute and keeps failing like a runaway train full of dynamite headed for a day care center. Director John Faust throws together a preposterously silly plot that seems suspiciously akin to the ghost story compilation books I read as a child. Though it’s a technically solid film with well done cinematography and editing, the unpolished script coupled with third rate dinner theater acting keeps the potential level at a bare minimum.

Young, optimistic Jane’s car has broken down in a small country town where she aspires to start a new life. She hitches a ride with creepy, depressed Lyle (who loves telling people how much he hates the town, by the way) to a home she wants to fix up. Soon enough, however, she falls into a trap, and learns a dark secret about the diner waitress who practically shoved her into Lyle’s car to see the house. Who didn’t see that one coming?

I can see a grind house homage anywhere, but it’s in my humble opinion that this genre should be improved upon, not copied verbatim. Everything about this film is so damn silly and over the top, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could find it the least bit unsettling. The ending reveal just made things worse, I laughed so hard at the proposed “twist” that I nearly had an hernia. So for all things considered, if you’re looking for a reason to fear small town rednecks, just go pick up “Deliverance,” and leave this one on the shelf.

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