Monday, November 7, 2011

Rest Stop: Don't Look Back (2008)

The first big problem with Rest Stop: Don't Look Back, the sequel to 2006's Rest Stop, is the idea of The Old Highway, a highway that is not on any maps. First off, it's already called The Old Highway in the 1973 scene. Now it's thirty-five years later. Are we really supposed to believe that AAA is still unaware of this highway? And what about Google Maps? And the road has clearly been maintained. Who has been taking care of this highway all these years - the ghosts in the RV?

Another problem is that these characters are definitely not likeable, at least not at first The main guy is the brother of the character from the first film, and this one starts off with him getting home from overseas, where he's been serving in the military. So there is a party for him to celebrate his safe return. At the party, his girlfriend says, "I gotta get out of here or I'll go Columbine." Seriously. I mean, this guy has just returned from military service, and this blond bitch casually threatens to shoot his entire family. His response should have been, "Fuck you, bitch. These people are my friends and family." Instead he takes her on a road trip to find his missing brother.

A dorky friend tags along on the trip - but following in his own vehicle - because (and this might be the most stupid motivation for a character ever in the history of cinema) he's in love with Nicole, the brother's girlfriend who is also missing, and has been missing for a year. He figures that if he saves her, she'll let him fuck her.

Anyway, we get that typical gas station scene with close-ups of every odd little artifact that the set dresser found. We've seen this gas station in basically every horror film that takes place out in nowhere. And why is the attendant always so reluctant to help? Wouldn't he be happy to finally have a customer? And why is the place so filthy? What has this attendant been doing all this time to earn his pay? If I ever make a horror movie with a gas station in the middle of nowhere, it will be the cleanest gas station ever, with the nicest, most polite attendant. "So good to see you I've just been cleaning this place for the past fifteen years since my last customers came through."

But there are some good things. We do finally like the blonde later when she puts a gun to the gas station attendant, demanding information. And the attendant's reply is pretty cool. And there is some seriously fucked up gore. Of course, it's all tied up in the ridiculous concept of sin.

Rest Stop: Don't Look Back does manage to capture that great nightmarish feel of nothing and yet everything being real, with the characters wondering if anything they do has any effect.