Rest Stop [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (10th December 2008).
The Film

The movie starts off by talking about personal demons. Everybody has a secret, or a personal fear they have to deal with in their lives, whether they want to deal with or not. It is an anchor, a thing weighing you down and it is never easy to free yourself from it.

This is pretty apt, as the rest of the movie could be interpreted a few ways. On the surface, it's about a psycho terrorizing a girl, Nicole Carrow (Jaimie Alexander), after she and her boyfriend Jess (Joey Mendicino)stop to go to the bathroom at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere. The set up is that the girl is a goody-two-shoes and she runs away from home to go live in LA and be an actress with her boyfriend. The two lovers are happy until they end up in the middle of nowhere and he disappears. However, on the other hand, this girl is trapped in her own personal hell, with easy no way of getting out. She's stuck there.

The evil is the typical nameless, faceless truck-driving menace seen in 'Duel', 'Jeepers Creepers' and many other movies before it. He's sick and he's twisted, takes no prisoners and does painful things to the people he kidnaps. However, even more terrifying for Nicole is the prospect of losing her own mind. She starts imagining things and she doesn't know what she believes anymore. This device is taken up in the sequel, but is not as effective as in this movie.

This idea would also be a bit more effective if the movie didn't have as many clichés. For example, near the end, Nicole meets her boyfriend again, and let's just say that he's seen healthier days. You don’t know if she's imagining his being there, in the middle of the woods of if he's really there. This is a great twist. However, the circumstances in which she meets him again are contrived and unnecessary. Not knowing what's real and what's not is great in horror movie, as it always keeps you on your toes, but in the circumstances shown in this movie, it's just frustrating. The director wanted us to guess whether the movie takes place inside the main character's head or at an actual rest stop in the middle of nowhere, and whether is succeeds or not is depended on the viewer.

Star Jaimie Alexander has a tough role to play, making us believe she's scared and/or going crazy and the level of success varies. In some scenes, she seems pretty weak, while in others, her strengths come through. You can feel her slipping down to insanity, and the dramatic moments work pretty well. The level of acting for the rest of the cast is pretty average or even slightly below average. Everybody pushes for over-the-top when this isn't really the best decision in some time.

Director John Shiban keeps things moving and keeps the creepy atmosphere pretty high. However, the smaller moments work better than the scarier moments. The sequences between Tracy (Deanna Russo) and Nicole, or the police officer and Nicole are far more effective and bring the viewer into the movie far more than the jump tactics employed.

Overall, the movie is a mixed bag. The relationship between the two lovers is pretty thin, but there's something about Nicole and her moments of state of mind that make the movie pretty effective. Everybody has personal demons, though you may not know what yours is. Nicole has to figure out what her demon is, and how to get rid of it.

Video

1.85:1 widescreen, using the VC-1 codec. The picture shows the low budget of the movie. It's nothing horrible, but there are many small flaws. However, these may be intentional to contribute to the look and feel of the movie. Firstly, the overall picture is softer than it should be. Everything has a slightly fuzzy look that shouldn't be present in high-definition. On the bright side, the print is free of any specks and scratches. The colours are accurate, but the contrast is a bit flat, with darks not showing too much shadow detail. However, there is still a nice sheen of grain throughout the movie. On the whole, it's a decent transfer, but could be a bit better.

Audio

The main audio track is an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 offering, though there is a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track (in English) also available. Both tracks are pretty much the same, with nothing really distinguishing the lossless track from the standard track. A lot of the movie is pretty quiet, so there's not much going on in the audio department. However, dialogue is always clear, without muffling or other problems. Little quiet sounds do appear here and there in the side and rear speakers, but nothing big. The score is also pretty much centered most of the time with some notes here and there seeping through to the other speakers. The mixing is simple and nothing special, but it gets the point across.
English (HoH), French and Spanish subtitles are given.

Extras

The disc's offerings are a bit thin, but there are three alternate endings (1:52, 0:51, 0:26). The one in the movie, though not the best, is the best of the three.

On the Bus (1:23) is an animated gallery of the grisly things going on in the school bus. Scotty's Blog Exposé (6:26) is a strange extra. This is some of the RV family's home movies. I doubt it was done for promo purposes, so it's a bit strange to have this here. I suppose it explains a bit more of the family. The movie's Trailer is also here.

Overall

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

 


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