Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back (Uncut) [Blu-ray Review]

Studio: Warner Bros.

Starring: Richard Tillman, Jessie Ward, Graham Norris, Joey Mendicino, Julie Mond, Brionne Davis, Diane Louise Salinger, Michael Childers, Gary Entin, Edmund Entin, Mikey Post, Steve Railsback
Directed By: Shawn Papazian

Running Time: 89 minutes
Ratings: Canada – 18A, USA – NR, UK – N/A

Back Cover

One year ago, the mysterious Rest Stop killer drilled, ripped and splattered young road trippers Jesse and Nicole. Now three more unsuspecting travelers come looking for the missing duo. And that means the killer gets to sharpen his horrific torture skills all over again – only bloodier and scarier than before. He’s not alone, either. The Winnebago full of creepy living corpses is also back, roaming the old highway. And Jesse and Nicole’s brutalized ghosts seek revenge, determined to give as gory as they got. Watch if you dare. But whatever you do, Don’t Look Back!

Movie

The best written dialogue from the film was, “C’mon Scooby Doo. Let’s find the mystery bus.” That pretty much sums up the quality of the film. It also foreshadows what the rest of this review will be like.

I will first admit to having never seen the original Rest Stop. And, I’ve read that this sequel is an improvement upon the first. If that is the case, then the first must be a horrendous experience. I was completely motivated to turn this instalment off after the first 30 minutes. But, alas, having to review it, I was forced to endure. In fact, I would go so far as to say that enduring the full 89 minutes was far more torturous than anything that occurs to any of the films main characters!

The first fright scene takes place in an appropriate setting where scaring the crap out of someone serve its design function. If it is meant to be a cleverly subtle joke, it got me giggling… that is, until it made me gag from disgust. Subsequently, the ensuing scenarios were very weak in intensity compared to the likes of other films in its gore/suspense/horror genre. In proceeding with this review I will be referencing specific details that will spoil the film. However, I do so in hopes that it will save you having to experience them first hand yourselves. Therefore I give you the choice to keep reading or to quit now if you are that intent on wasting 90 minutes on such poor entertainment.

This film was evidently created for the most beginner of gore enthusiasts. Fanatics will find it severely lacking in the usual variety and creativity that accompanies such great slashers as Saw, Hostel, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The extent of the gore can be summed up with the following list: a hand being chopped off, several legs drilled into, an eye gouged out, and a drill to the ribcage. That’s it. Those are the only memorable moments of sadism in the film. And, most are done with archaic techniques of seeing the wind up, missing the pitch and hit, but being able to see the ball clear the centrefield fence. Who wants to see an axe raised in the air followed instantly by a hand hitting the floor? These films are meant to impress with the blade actually slicing through the limbs of victims. A very amateur way to make a film of this genre if you ask me.

Another weak element to the script is the attempted twist at the end. How many people will be gullible enough to not know what will happen based purely on the presence of the other 7 or 8 characters encountered throughout the film? As soon as I heard the cheesy music cue, I knew what was about to happen.

So, at this point you must be asking, “Is there anything that this guy found merit in regarding this film?” Well, to answer that question, yes. I will gladly point out that the cast deserves some merit for dealing with the script relatively well. Most times when a film of this genre stinks to this degree, the performances fall into the porta-potty with it. These actors/actresses managed to maintain some level of believability and integrity throughout. Not enough to save the film, but enough to get by without me needing to think about how to critique them.

Crave Factor – 4

Extras

No extras are present on this release. But, what’s the deal I heard about the DVD release getting peppered with goodies?

Crave Factor – N/A

Video

2.4:1 Widescreen / VC-1

This is one of the more inconsistent transfers that I have yet encountered on the Blu-ray format. Many of the outdoor daylight scenes are oversaturated, but some are not. Many of the dark scenes are muted in colour, but some are not. Some scenes are laden with white specs that, for me, are indicative of damage to the source print. Also, the image suffers from an inherent softness throughout that is proportionally related to the varying degree of grain between camera angles. On the positive side, there is no artifacting; but does that really matter with so many other problems with the transfer?

Crave Factor – 3

Audio

Dolby TrueHD 5.1 / Dolby Digital 5.1

As with almost every Blu-ray yielding a lossless audio track, Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back sounds best when played back with its TrueHD audio presentation. Everything from music to sound effects to dialogue has an edge of distinct realism over its compressed Dolby Digital counterpart. On the TrueHD track, the highs from the electric motor of the drill is much more succinct and the lows of the explosion are powerful enough to notice a slight tremble. There is also a fair amount of environmental detail that gets featured through the surround satellites. The only trouble here is that the positional accuracy of both tracks is quite weak. When a vehicle travels into view via the right side of a still screen, there should be some audio foreshadowing its arrival from the rear right. Likewise, any motion taking place off screen should be represented as though the viewer is sitting at the location where the camera is positioned. This makes the overall audio presentation slightly front end heavy for a film of this nature. However, I imagine that this has more to do with the actual mixing of the film and not the transfer itself.

Crave Factor – 6

Menu

No main disc menu is available on this disc. The playback menu is the simplest of designs. When called upon, it appears at the bottom of the screen and offers “Languages” or “Scene Selections” as the only options.

Crave Factor – N/A

Conclusion

Hardcore fans of the genre will most likely be disappointed… unless blinded by some strange desire to possess every frame of torture entertainment known to man. Anyone just beginning an interest in the genre will most likely be turned away by a lack of visual stimuli. Anyone else probably already wants nothing to do with any film in this genre anyhow. As for the Blu-ray release itself? I can’t imagine the presentation being any worse on DVD. The video has many flaws which appear to be derived mainly from the actual shooting techniques and a weak work print used for the digital transfer. The audio presentation is decent, but won’t show off anywhere near the full capabilities of a high fidelity entertainment system. Lastly, a lack of extras (which apparently the DVD sports a fair number of) does not help the scenario either. I can’t possibly recommend this Blu-ray release as a purchase. Best I can do is recommend it as a “rent before buying” title.

Overall Crave Factor – 4

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