Young lovers Jess (Joey Mendicino) and Nicole (Jaimie Alexander, HALLOWED GROUND) run away in Jess' car one day, heading for Hollywood with dreams of making the big time.

The journey begins pleasantly enough, with the sun beaming down on the attractive couple as they laugh, share aspirations and even stop on the roadside to have sex (while filming it).

But then things start to go awry and the couple begin bickering. Nicole grows tired, and becomes agitated when Jess' cousin lets them down by telephone, telling them they can no longer stay at his place in LA.

The arguments stop when Nicole announces she needs the toilet - and Jess promptly takes her to the nearest rest stop they cross. It is, typically, in the middle of nowhere.

Nicole visits the filthiest toilet ever (honestly, even the ones in TRAINSPOTTING come a close second to this shithole), while Jess waits outside. Upon her exit, Nicole is alarmed to find Jess gone.

Alone in the middle of nowhere with no working phone, Nicole begins to fret. But her troubles have only started, as a white truck turns up that she recognises as being a vehicle they'd had a run-in with a few hours earlier. The driver throws Jess' bloodied mobile phone at Nicole then races off.

As the driver tears away, Nicole manages to read the truck's number plate - and recognises it from the graffiti she'd previously read in the rest stop loo. Nipping back to the crapper to re-read the graffiti, she's horrified to read "He cut me and killed my husband. There is no escape."

Stranded in a remote part of middle-America, Nicole faces a night from Hell as she and a girl she discovers hidden injured in the broom cupboard must fight for their lives as the mad trucker comes back to claim his victims.

REST STOP borrows thematically from SPOORLOOS and WOLF CREEK. There's also strong elements of SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE evident, particularly in the mid-section. Had it a great identity of it's own, this wouldn't be such a problem. As it stands, REST STOP never pushes itself to be anything other than a vague (and surprisingly tame) reminder of better things.

Alexander is a strong female lead, attractive and interesting to watch. She carries the film well. Deanna Russo (DIRT ON LEAVES) is less convincing as her injured friend, while Mendicino unfortunately paints Jess as someone you'd actually like to see carved up.

Visually the film is a triumph, making good use of its simplistic outdoor location. The interior scenes are well designed and imaginatively lit for added ambience, while the editing and direction are competently crisp throughout.

But REST STOP never deviates from doing a merely serviceable job. It passes the time, ticks the boxes, yet never thrills. It never dares to be different, or offer any real surprises.

I tell a lie: there is one great scene in the film where Nicole stumbles across a warped family in their mobile home, who turn out to be potentially more fucked up than the killer baying for her blood outside. This sequence, straight out of one of David Lynch's freakiest nightmares, is great ... but short lived.

The moments of onscreen gore are shot in an overly stylised, MTV-editing manner - all flash and no offence. Even the downbeat ending feels by now obligatory for low-budget US-based horrors.

As a statement of intent from recently formed production company Raw Feed, REST STOP is a little weak.

The disc from Warner offers the film uncut in it's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, anamorphically enhanced for 16x9 TVs. Images are great - sharp, colourful and bright, as you'd expect.

The English audio is offered in a rich, well-balanced 5.1 mix. Subtitles are available in a variety of languages, including English and English Hard of Hearing options.

Extras aren't bad either.

First up are 5 very short alternative endings, which don't offer much but are worth a look.

A 90-second montage of "police photographs" entitled On The Bus follows, providing still shots of some of the film's more gruesome scenes.

Then there's a 9-minute featurette where director John Shiban discusses the FX. Shiban seems likeable and cultured enough, it almost makes you wish you could like the film more.

An 8-minute interview with Alexander is intercut with scenes from the movie, inadvertently highlighting that her character is so much more agreeable than the real thing.

"Scotty's Blog Expose" is a 6-minute featurette aimed at the Internet, which I guess is meant to be funny. It isn't.

Finally, there's a half-decent trailer which is pretty indicative of the film as a whole.

A decent disc for a forgettable film.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Warner Home Video
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review