"Rest Stop" is the first in the "Raw Feed" series of horror films, which will head to DVD. The second and third films (one from "24" exec producer Tony Krantz and the other from "Blair Witch Project" writer Daniel Myrick) will hit video shelves next year. As for "Rest Stop", its the directorial debut of former "X-Files" writer/producer John Shibian.
The film focuses on a young couple, Nicole (Jaimie Alexander) and her boyfriend Jess (Joey Mendicino), who are on their way to Hollywood to try and start a new life. After a scary near-miss on the road, they pull off at what appears to be a bathroom that has been aging about ten times as fast as everything around it, in order for her to use the facilities.
WHen she gets out of the bathroom, he's gone and she's stuck. Eventually, the driver involved in the near miss earlier throws out a hint that he's the one behind the disappearance of her boyfriend, but he zooms off, leaving her - although only briefly - to try and figure out (which she doesn't - this is one of those films where the characters do quite a few things they shouldn't, like how she starts downing whiskey while trying to figure out her situation) what to do next.
When the evil driver comes back for her, she runs to get help...from a deeply creepy family with twins that make "The Omen"'s Damien look pleasant. And, of course, she keeps finding herself back at the rest stop that the evil driver frequents. "Rest Stop" certainly isn't working with a very original story - many elements of the film have been done before (see last year's "Wolf Creek" and "The Hills Have Eyes" remake) - but director Shibian manages a few minor scares and gets a decent (for a character that makes some pretty dim decisions) performance from Alexander. Still, many horror fans will likely either find this familiar stuff or be bummed by the plot holes - or both.
Horror fans looking for gore will find some here, although the film is not as graphic as some of the horror films of recent years. Overall, an average entry in the genre. I'm interested to see Myrnick's upcoming entry into the "Raw Feed" series, which will hopefully be a bit better.
VIDEO: Shot in what appears to be rather gritty and low-end digital video, "Rest Stop" is presented here in 1.78:1 (1080p/VC-1). Sharpness and detail are satisfactory, as while the picture never appeared crystal clear, the level of definition remained consistently reasonable. The Blu-Ray edition offers somewhat better sharpness and definition than the DVD, but differences where not major.
As for flaws, I didn't notice any instances of edge enhancement or shimmering, but a few instances of pixelation were spotted. Colors remained a tad subdued, but looked accurately presented. Overall, this was an adequate presentation of the rough-looking material.
SOUND: The film's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 presentation does certainly miss some opportunities, as surround use is fairly minimal - especially for this kind of picture. Audio quality was otherwise adequate, with crisp dialogue and effects that sounded clear, but not particularly dynamic. The Dolby TrueHD presentation offered minimal (at best) improvement over the DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 option.
EXTRAS: Three alternate endings, a pair of film-related shorts and the trailer.
Final Thoughts: "Rest Stop" lacks in originality and has a few sizable plot holes, but director Shibian's debut feature manages a few scares and offers a decent lead effort from Alexander. The Blu-Ray offers fine video quality, satisfactory audio and a few minor extras. Fans of the genre may want to try it out as a rental.
The Film C