Reviewed by Andrew Kasch
Starring Richard Tillman, Jessie Ward, Graham Norris, Steve Railsback
Directed by Shawn Papazian
Distributed by Warner Home Video
The latest movie in the “Sequels No One Asked For” category, Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back reunites most of the cast and crew to expand the mythology and answer lingering questions from the original. The only question they don’t answer is why we should care?
Warner’s Raw Feed label has churned out several interesting D-TV titles like Otis and Believers, so it’s a bit disheartening to see them go back to a mind-numbingly stupid movie like Rest Stop and attempt to turn it into a franchise. The first film was a moronic Duel-like slasher with bad David Lynch/Twilight Zone-esque overtones. True to fashion, this sequel is more of the same, amped up: We get more gore, more set-pieces and stupider characters.
The cliched sequel plot follows Tom, the brother of Jesse (who was the boyfriend of the girl in the original, as I’m sure you’ve forgotten). Hitting the road with two teenage pals, Tom decides to retrace his brother’s steps so he can learn of his fate and discovers the “Rest Stop of Doom.” The trio quickly finds themselves separated where they run afoul of the evil Driver and ghostly Winnebago Family from the first film. More torture and road rage ensues.
Ironically, Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back demands that you look back at the first film if you hope to grasp what the hell is going on. The end result is like Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning cranked up to even more ridiculous levels, which is to say that it’s a sequel that spends all its time filling in the blanks to characters and events we couldn’t give two shits about. Want to know the origins of The Driver? Where the Winnebago Family came from? What happened to the last survivors? The filmmakers think we do, but it’s clear they’re far more interested in the mythology than their own audience. Let this be a lesson to everyone attempting a franchise: Make sure your villains are iconic before you treat them like icons.
Rest Stop had one of the single dumbest heroines in horror history. To compensate, we get three equally annoying leads: Tom is the mindless gung-ho hero. His girlfriend, Marilyn is a beach-blonde bimbo who mis-uses the word “fuck” more than Lohan in I Know Who Killed Me. And then there’s “comic-relief” Jared, the annoying best-friend character who couldn’t even pass for a sidekick in a Rob Schneider comedy. Furthermore, nothing these three characters do over the course of the movie makes any sense whatsoever. Like the girl in the first film, they lack even the most basic survival instincts of an 80’s slasher victim, yet they manage to stay alive for most of the movie.
Virtually everything in Rest Stop 2 feels like an extension of the first – from the cinematography and direction, right down to the god-awful writing. The only thing that’s welcome is returning composer Bear McCreary who delivers a better score than this movie deserves. In fact, the closing credits tune (sung by Brendan McCreary, who also did Battlestar Galactica’s infamous “All Along The Watchtower” cover) is better than anything you’ll find in this drab of a film.
The DVD offers up the usual host of deleted scenes and an alternate ending, all of which were cut for a reason. There’s also a commentary by writer/producer John Shiban and director Shawn Papazian where the two spend the entire talk describing scenes as they play out while congratulating their own work (they also repeatedly use the term “peaks and valleys” to describe every arc in the film). Rounding things out is the ironically-titled featurette “Doomed to Repeat: The Mythology of Rest Stop.” Guess what that one’s about? Overall, there’s nothing in these supplements that give any real insight to the film. It’s all standard studio fluff. To further confound things, the film’s Blu-ray cousin has not a single one of the above mentioned features. It’s as bare-bones as they come. Well at least those with high-end movie watching tech can be spared.
Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back is so much like the first that die-fans (all six of ‘em) will most likely dig it. More casual viewers will find this messy sequel both uninteresting and entirely inaccessible.
Thanks, but no thanks.
1 1/2 out of 5
Special Features DVD ONLY:
2 1/2 out of 5
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