Monday, March 29, 2010

Mindless Movie Monday: Rest Stop (2006)

Rest Stop is usually bombarded with negativity in pretty much every review I have ever read. And while it may very well be a piece of rubbish, I'm here to admit it is somewhat a guilty pleasure of mine.
It has little to no real scares, ridiculous acting, and a seriously moronic and uninspired plot.
So why do I like it? Beats the hell out of me.

As the movie begins, Nicole and Jess are taking off to California to become movie stars or models or some other truly ludicrous ambition. As naive as they are, they are bound to find nothing but serious trouble. On the road, they stop over for a quickie along side the highway (because apparently they have never seen a horror movie in their lives and don't realize how incredibly stupid this decision is). While finishing up their copulating, a yellow truck is seen idling nearby - not one to miss a peep show I guess. They don't think much of it, and once on the road again they manage to have an argument about the fact that they won't be staying with Jess's cousin once they hit LA. Seems they won't have anywhere to live. Really well thought out plan, guys. Kudos.

When Nicole expresses the need to stop at an upcoming rest area, they pull off. By all indications, this is one of the creepiest rest stops I've seen. Deserted, with no other cars around - and this is broad daylight mind you - Nicole heads inside to take care of business. is where I have to just say why? If it were me, I'd have just peed alongside the car and forgone the whole bathroom thing. I mean, who cares if your boyfriend sees you? Didn't you just exchange body fluids anyway? And there is no one else around!

Anyway, after using the extremely deplorable rest room, Nicole heads back outside only to discover Jess is gone. That goes for the car as well. After a lot of yelling and swearing, she finally realizes he's not coming back, so she laments their fighting and resigns herself to sitting on a picnic table and pouting. It is then when the yellow truck reappears, and the driver throws Jess's cell phone out the window at her and speeds away.

Obviously frightened and worried, Nicole decides to go for help, and comes upon a run-down old camper. Naturally the family inside is something out of a Twilight Zone episode and it doesn't take Nicole long to realize this is not a good idea. Seeming like a bunch of religious zealots, they bring absolutely nothing to the film whatsoever, except to crank up the confusion. When Nicole is caught peeping at a disfigured person behind a curtain in the camper (and no, it's not the Wizard), the family freaks out and kicks her ass to the curb. She returns to the rest stop and when she goes back inside the bathroom, she now hears someone crying. Nicole finds a young woman curled up behind the door of the maintenance room, bleeding and yammering on about some deranged killer that tortured her. When Nicole goes to the sink to wet some paper towels, the girl mysteriously disappears, leaving no trace of herself or the profuse bleeding that had occurred.

The man in the yellow truck reappears and Nicole, assuming he is the menacing killer, blocks his entry into the rest room. He continues to prey upon her fears and circles the rest area over and over, revving his engine and pointing his glaring headlights into the windows of the rest area. Near a panicked state, she is temporarily relieved when a policeman on a motorcycle drives up.
Rushing out to greet him and explain the situation, the cop nearly ignores her warnings, thinking her to be in a fragile mental state. That is, until the truck appears and runs the cop down, crushing his legs to a pulp then driving off.

Nicole somehow manages to drag the cop inside the rest room. The truck driver locks them inside, and when Nicole sticks her finger through a hole in the door to try to unlock it, the man bites off her finger. Nice. The cop gives Nicole his gun and instructs her to shoot the truck driver. All she succeeds in doing is wasting bullets, for a few moments later the killer drops a camera through a skinny opening in a window, which of course shows Jess being tortured.

Soon after, the killer sticks a hose through said window and starts to pour gasoline through it, intending to burn them out. Nicole, savvy young thing that she is, finds an opening in a ceiling hatch and then realizes she has no way to help the cop out. The officer then begs her to use his remaining bullets to kill him, as he'd rather not burn to death. Nicole, despite reservations, shoots him once and actually misses the brain - and has to shoot him again. Oh my.
Hurriedly trying to escape, she takes one last look back at the cop, only to find he too, is gone - with no evidence remaining that he had ever even been there.

So the movie is a total mind-fuck of a film. While Nicole continues her plight, encountering a ranger station (that just happens to have some handy whiskey) and eventually finding Jess and the maniacal killer, the film struggles on every level to have any cohesiveness. Most plot elements are shaky at best, and Nicole is actually pretty unlikable, if I'm being truthful. I wished it would have been her that was kidnapped by the crazed nutcase and not her dumb-ass boyfriend.

I think the film was trying to be some kind of ghost story in which the rest area is a catalyst to the killer's compulsions. In one scene, we come to realize the guy's been killing hapless rest area patrons for more years than feasible for his speculated age. So is the truck driver a ghost? An evil spirit that just can't stop his nasty habit? And who the hell were the folks in the camper who seemed like they'd been parked there since 1956? And why did the ranger station seem utterly useless, with no phone to speak of?

All these questions and more are never really answered, and I think this has to be the main gripe of anyone who has sat through it. There is absolutely no closure to this movie at all. There is a decent amount of gore - some brain matter showering and some torture scenes, but not enough to save it.

Unsurprisingly, a sequel was made a few years later which has the brother of Jess out looking to find out what happened to his runaway bro. The fact that he was even able to trace him down to that exact rest area just shows you how implausible and illogical the second film is as well.

Now that I've written this review, I have to wonder: why the hell do I like it? The notion that I would is as inexplicable as the film itself. Matter of fact, maybe I really don't like it.

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


Aaron said...

I actually like Rest Stop a lot! The sequel too, but more so the first one. The dude from Blossom (what's his name... Joey Lawrence or some shit?) was so over-the-top in it, the weirdo family with the deformed midget kid was pretty cool (although they did get kinda played out and overexposed in the sequel), and... I dunno, I just thought it was entertaining. I'm glad someone else out there digs on some Rest Stop!

Heather Santrous said...

I'm with Aaron on this one. It is one of those movies that really makes you think about what is going on, and will likely take more than one viewing to really figure it out.

I admit that it confused me a lot when I first watched it, but I still enjoyed it a lot. Maybe if I sat down to watch it again I wouldn't like it as much. Some movies I enjoy more the next time I watch it, others I enjoy less. It happens I suppose.