There is nothing better than when a studio embraces their film and shares it with an audience without trying to trick them. You’ve seen the stills, you’ve seen the DVD cover art, you pretty much know exactly what you’re going to get in REST STOP, Warner Home Video’s first direct-to-video film under its brand new Raw Feed genre label. Directed by John Shiban (The X-Files, Supernatural), the film looks good, plays well and is gory as all hell- but it’s still not quite something you’d see getting a wide theatrical release. Instead of tinkering with the film and blasting us with bogus ads, they’re throwing it at us head first on October 17th , unrated, uncut and the way us horror fans want it… delicious.
REST STOP follows two young people on a road trip from Texas to California. They pull into a rest stop because Nicole (Jaimie Alexander) has to pee. When she comes out, her boyfriend and the car are gone and she’s left in the middle of nowhere. Then, this yellow truck appears with a driver we hardly see who, for some reason, has decided to stalk and terrorize her. It becomes a cat-and-mouse situation during this long night, trying to thwart the bad guy, find her boyfriend and stay alive.
The plotline is simple, take TEXAS CHAINSAW and place it at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere. There you have it. There’s not much to work with since the story is thin, so Shiban writes in some idiotic scene with a crazy religious family who freak out Nicole. It was there just for shock, had no real place in the film and did nothing for me. Then Shiban made a conscious decision to not show us the killer, which is completely fine with me…if he knew what type of killer he was. There’s nothing worse than an indecisive film – is the killer supernatural or 100% the real deal? Not knowing what we were dealing with took me out of the story a bit, and by not ever really explaining makes me feel like they copped out.
Yes, REST STOP is bloody as all hell- there are tongues cut off, lips sewn shut, fingers bitten off, brains blown out (twice), legs rolled over and tons more. The effects look great and in such a thin-structured story, it really amplifies the entertainment value when there are some good blood and guts flying across the screen. But something that turned me off is the same thing that pissed me off about David DeFalco’s CHAOS – a black heart. I’m all for a good time and a fun ride, but when a film seems like it was made with malicious intent, it turns me off. I’m not saying Shiban was aiming at this, which is why I won’t take any points off, but I do feel like the final cut of the film felt cold-blooded and empty. There was no lesson to be learned and nothing to be gained by the characters in the film. It was straight forward brutality, which I guess some of you are truly gonna dig on.
Being that this is a DTV, I wasn’t surprised at all with the production value, it was everything I expected. The film looked good, the FX were fantastic, the editing and directing fantastic at times, terrible at others and the acting was sub-par. Funny enough Joey (Woh!) Lawrence stars in the film and I had no clue it was him. He must be pulling a reverse Michael Jackson because he was the darkest white dude I’ve ever seen. His acting was way over-the-top and hokey, but what did you expect?
What did I expect? Exactly what I got; if I rented this for $5.50 I would have been pleased, if I purchased it for $12.99 I would have been just as satisfied. Warner’s first of three DTV pics is a really great stepping stone and I hope this does well for them because it will only bring bigger and better films right to your door. I would 100% recommend checking this out, some of you will be in gore-heaven and won’t want to come back to reality.