Rest Stop AKA Rest Stop: Dead Ahead
R4 - Australia - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (9th March 2007).
The Film

After running away from her Texas home, aspiring young actress Nicole Carrow (Jaimie Alexander) and her boyfriend Jess (Joey Mendicino) start a road trip to L.A., heading for Hollywood. After almost having an accident with a yellow pick-up truck they pull into a rest stop, when Jess goes missing, the yellow pick-up returns... but not to help.
No, you read it right, there's no need to double check the title, this is a new movie. It just probably sounds like one (or ten!) that you've already seen before. Like, say "The Vanishing" (1993), "Duel" (1971), "The Car" (1977), "The Hitcher" both 1 (1986) and 2 (2003), plus the recent remake (2007), "Joy Ride" aka "Road Kill" (2001) or "Jeepers Creepers" (2001). There's even a large dash of "The Sixth Sense" (1999) and "The Others" (2001) for good measure plus there's some good old fashioned toolbox torture a-la the "Saw" series (2004-2006), because too many uninspired horror movies made since them can't go past being 'inspired' by them.
Add in a crazy bible-bashing Southern family complete with a deformed dwarf (Mikey Post) and weird blank-faced identical twins (Gary and Edmund Entin) that seem to have wandered in from a David Lynch film, and in 81 minutes you'll probably want to rename the film "Déj vu". I know there are not too many original ideas left, and horror movies especially have always been guilty of being repetitive, but guys, come on. If you can't find at least a slightly new angle on something then it might be time to go and work with Martin Lawrence.
Writer/Director John Shiban has executive produced and written multiple episodes of "The X-Files" (1993-2002), "Star Trek Enterprise" (2001-2005) and current hit series "Supernatural" (2005-Present). But with his only previous directing credit being one episode of "The X-Files" (season nine's 'Underneath'), his feature debut is a badly written mess full of plot holes, for instance for the entire duration Nicole never leaves the rest stop, the same rest stop in which the crazy psychopath in the yellow pick-up truck is tormenting her...why doesn't she just leave the rest stop and stay off the road? In addition to this the film features some rather terrible acting. Jaimie Alexander might have the looks but Jodie Foster has absolutely nothing to worry about.
It's very apt that this is probably the shortest review I've written. I'm short on patience for films that are short on originality, running time and, for the most part, talent. In short, skip "Rest Stop" as you'll almost certainly come across a better designed one a bit further down the road, like "The Hitcher" remake (2007). I haven't yet seen it but it stars Sean Bean... there you go, it's already better!

Video

Presented in a widescreen ratio of 1.78:1 this anamorphic transfer is suitable enough for this straight-to-DVD release, although the case incorrectly lists the ratio at being 2.35:1, rest assured that is not the case. This transfer is clean and presents colours well, especially skin tones which appear natural. Blacks are a bit too dark at times making some night scenes difficult to make out what's happening at times but otherwise there isn't much else to complain about as this is a fine transfer but that could use some improvement.

Audio

Two audio tracks are also included both of which are in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and they are in English and Hungarian. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its original English soundtrack and found it a fairly paint-by-numbers mix with clean and distortion free dialogue had some adequate use of the surround channels with directional effects and music but that overall lacked depth and range to make a huge impact on me. It's an average effort for what is in effect an average film.
Optional subtitles are included in English, English for the hearing impaired, Dutch, Danish, Finish, Russian, Hungarian, Portuguese and Swedish.

Extras

Warner Brothers have included 5 alternate endings, three featurettes, an interview plus a theatrical trailer as extras on this disc. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up are a series of 5 alternate endings which include:

- "Alternate ending 1" which runs for 1 minute 20 seconds, the girl at the end of the film runs out of the newly painted bathrooms to discover no one at the rest stop except the crazy bible-bashing Southern family.
- "Alternate ending 2" which runs for 1 minute 50 seconds, in this ending Nicole returns home and after entering the yellow truck drives by slowly in the background.
- "Alternate ending 2a" which runs for 50 seconds, same as the previous ending only in this one the driver of the truck rings the doorbell of Nicole's house.
- "Alternate ending 3" which runs for 1 minute 13 seconds, After returning home Nicole answers the door only to discover that the killer is back for her.
- "Alternate ending 3a" which runs for 26 seconds, same as the previous ending only instead of the killer being at the door it's the crazy bible-bashing Southern family.

Next up is "On the Bus" a featurette that runs for 1 minute 23 seconds, in this clip we see a collection of footage and photos of the victims the killer has tortured inside the broken down school bus.

"Director Dissects the Special Effects" featurette follows and runs for 9 minutes 42 seconds, this is the closest thing you'll get to a commentary as we see some behind-the-scenes footage of several key scenes from the film that includes the bathroom explosion, the truck ramming Nicole inside Jess' car, the tongue cutting, the finger bite, the Molotov burn, driving over the officer, shooting the officer in the head, drilling the leg and carving flesh of the victims. Each of these scenes are looked at and the director reveals how they achieved them.

Next up is "Scotty's Blog Expose" featurette which runs for 6 minutes 27 seconds, this is basically some 8mm style home video of the crazy family as shot by the deformed dwarf Scotty. There's some weird stuff in here and it's mostly not worth exploring.

Following that is an Interview with Jaimie Alexander which runs for 9 minutes 42 seconds. In this clip the actress talks about the similarities between her and the character she plays, she also talks about her first acting job after she moved to L.A., auditioning for "Rest Stop", working with the director as well as working with Joey Lawrence and she also talks about the physical challenges the film shoot provided among other things.

Rounding out the extras is the film's original theatrical trailer which runs for 1 minute 44 seconds.

Overall

The Film: C Video: B Audio: B Extras: C Overall: B-

 


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