Rest Stop (2006)

reststop3-1A cell phone that isn’t working, a gritty rest stop, no phone in sight, a bitchy wife, an inept husband, a mysterious man behind the wheel of a car, and a lot of screaming. Well, now that we have all the clichés in order, let’s make a movie! “Rest Stop” wants to be “Wolf Creek,” it wishes it were “The Hitcher,” it vies to be “Duel,” but in reality it’s not even as good as “Joy Ride.” If this is what we’re getting from direct to video, I’m shocked that I’m still a horror fan. “Rest Stop” is a sloppy hackneyed piece of dribble that derives much of its plot from different survivalist horror films only to be called a survivalist horror film.

It also steals clichés from grind house flicks only to attempt to be called a grind house flick. As usual, two people are traveling across country, and they decide to stop along the road. The push over Jess and his bitchy girlfriend Nicole are running away from home to go to Hollywood. The first of many problems with Shiban’s film is that he creates characters that are unlikable from start to finish, and it doesn’t help that no one in this god forsaking endurance test can act to save their lives. Did you see that pun there? I’ll move on. So, considering the Park Ranger’s office is only a few feet away, it seems the bathroom that Nicole is left in to fend off against the car driving psycho has been used as a base for murders and kidnappings for a long time. But we don’t find that out until later.

Before that we have to stay with Nicole who is a trifecta as an annoying unlikable character, a one-dimensional horror heroine, and is played by an awful actress. Jaimie Alexander’s performance is incredibly atrocious filled with levels of sub-par delivery of clunky dialogue, and scenery chewing. After being attacked once or twice, she hides in the park ranger’s office where she sits down to drink and engage in some porn viewing with a big smile… regarding the fact that her boyfriend may be dead. Meanwhile, she commits some more idiotic acts such as returning to the bathroom where she was attacked, and learning the origin of our killer through scribbling’s on the bathroom stall. You see we’re supposed to believe that people under great stress in the bathroom can tend to scribble on the walls as a sort of SOS, considering it’s a basically deserted area.

She then discovers a denizen in the bathroom, a young woman hiding out (or being stored) from the killer, but… how did the denizens in the bathroom survive all that time? Who knows? If the Driver was so intent on killing this girl, why did he call the cops? Why introduce a cop character only to have him offed and remain basically useless for the rest of the film? Why cast Joey Lawrence? Everyone knows he’s a horrible actor! Shiban’s writing is so sloppy, so hackneyed that the main villain himself becomes nothing more than a MacGuffin. Characters throughout the film do nothing but bounce around ideas and theories about the driver for the sole purposes of running around in circles.

Some people say he’s not human, some people think he’s a killer, the wall says he’s been around since the sixties which means he’d be in his fifties which means that someone eventually would have escaped his trap, which means that he was written for the sole purpose of having a villain and not expanding on him. His origin is never explained, and the writer can never stick to one origin or theory to give us an idea of what this guy is. The director would love to think he gave us a mystery to stay with. But really it’s nothing but a horrible MacGuffin that insults our intelligence. With boring direction, horrible writing and a recycled plot, Shiban’s film is a pointless exercise in wasting money to fill a resume. It’s an embarrassing half assed horror film that goes nowhere, and I couldn’t stand it.