Low budget horror films are always a mixed bag. For every one which transcends its limitations and provides us with chills and thrills, there are at least a dozen which fall flat on their faces and utterly fail to impress. Sadly, Rest Stop falls into the latter category.
Describing what went wrong with this picture is a complicated matter, as it virtually fails on every single level. From the script to the acting, Rest Stop is only entertaining in a Mystery Science Theater sort of way. Not, I imagine, what the filmmakers were shooting for.
The movie follows young lovers Nicole (Jaimie Alexander) and Jess (Joey Mendicino) as they leave Texas and head off to seek their fortunes in sunny California. After stopping to make love and provide the film with a bit of gratuitous nudity (but featuring what looks to be a body double for the female lead), the couple eventually encounters a redneck who nearly runs them off the road. This is what passes for foreshadowing these days, folks. Anyone who can’t guess what’s going to happen next should never attempt to play the game Clue.
After going for a bathroom break at a rest stop, Nicole returns to find Jess is missing. She initially thinks her boyfriend has abandoned her, but she soon realizes what’s truly at stake when the redneck in the truck makes a return appearance. From there on out, it’s a game of cat and mouse.
It’s hard to imagine that someone who served as a producer for both The X-Files and Supernatural had anything to do with this piece of junk. Unfortunately, they did. In fact, all the blame can be placed at the feet of John Shiban, since he shared the duties of both director and writer. Judging by this effort, I think we would all be better off if he stuck to producing in the future.
Nicole may be the dumbest heroine in the history of horror movies. Instead of running into the woods, she insists on continually barricading herself inside the tiny women’s room, which has seemingly been employed by victims of the killer redneck for decades. Early on in the film, she also breaks into the park ranger’s office (why a park ranger has an office at a rest stop is beyond me) and proceeds to drink all of the Wild Turkey that she can find. Getting drunk while being pursued by a psychopath is certainly a strategy which I would have never considered.
And then there are her scenes with Joseph Lawrence, who portrays perhaps the most incompetent cop in the history of cinema. I don’t want to ruin the scenes for you, but suffice it to say that you’ll be laughing out loud on several occasions at the ineptitude of the duo.
The script is terrible, choosing to follow the same tired horror cliches. There are also several scenes which mainly serve to baffle the audience and go nowhere. Take, for example, the family of religious zealots who temporarily rescue Nicole in their RV. This scene serves no other purpose than to confirm that all dedicated religious folk in horror films are absolutely nuts.
If you’re looking for genuine scares, then I would strongly urge you to look elsewhere. But if you’re looking to watch a train wreck of modern filmmaking, then Rest Stop may be the film for you.
And I dare you to keep from laughing.
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