Friday, June 20, 2014

Rest Stop: Don't Look Back (2008)

Due to the overwhelming critical response to the first Rest Stop, the demand for a sequel was through the roof. So now we have Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back, a sequel so good it doesn’t even have a “2” in the name to signify that it’s a sequel! Because not being able to tell if you’re getting the first one or the second one is the real way to make a good horror movie.

Director: Shawn Papazian
Starring: Richard Tillman, Jessie Ward

We start this one off with a guy breaking down on the road and getting picked up by the family in the Winnebago from the last one. We get a couple of scenes of them being weird, but the thing that really throws me off is how these two Funny Games guys never stop drinking from their soda cups:

What they’re not showing you is the scenes of these two having to stop at every rest stop to take a piss that lasts about twenty minutes from how much they’re drinking.

So I guess the Winnebago has soundproof walls, as the family outside doesn’t notice the hitchhiker and the wife fucking inside, even though it would have been the easiest set-up in the world for anyone to notice if they’d just gone inside.

I guess it was just a set-up though, as we see the wife egging her husband on as he beats the shit out of the hitchhiker after he finds them. Then they tie him up out back and gouge out his eyes and bury him in the desert. Unfortunately for them, he doesn’t need eyes to survive as he comes back and slits their throats!

I'm surprised all the soda they're constantly drinking didn't leak out in place of blood.

I guess this guy was supposed to be the rest stop killer, killed by these Winnebago people, who he killed in return – and now they’re all ghosts roaming the highway forever. And that’s your plot for the first film which wasn’t explained there, instead shoehorned awkwardly into this one. Magical. Some loser truck driver fucked another guy's wife and then came back to life as a zombie after they killed him for it. Well gee, if that doesn't sound worthy of a full length horror movie, I don't know what does!

We then switch to our real main characters, Five O’ Clock Shadow and Blonde Bimbo. I guess their names are really Tom and Marilyn, but who cares about that? Apparently they’re going on a road trip to track down Nicole and Jesse from the first movie, because they’re close family and friends. They also team up with this dorky loser named Jared, who comes along because he’s stalking Nicole or something – see, filmmaking is easy when you can just make up characters at your whimsy and say they knew the old characters not in the movie anymore! Totally not a cheap ass way to shoehorn in a story.

"Yeah, since I'm easily ten years older than you, it totally makes sense that we hang out!"

I guess I should be glad for one thing though, as at least this is trying to follow the original story, rather than just putting out some nonsense. Though as you’ll find, nonsense and Rest Stop are pretty much synonyms. For example, check out their awesome road trip set-up they have, where Tom and Marilyn ride in one car and Jared takes a completely different one and they speak via walkie-talkie.

The most convoluted way ever to say "I hate you but am too nice to NOT let you come along on our totally pointless road trip to the middle of nowhere." Also without the gas station man telling them in an overly long scene where to go, they really WOULD have been driving to nowhere. Brilliant.

Yeah because you know, THAT’S how people take road trips! Totally makes sense. Even though later on we see that they all get one hotel room just so Tom and Marilyn can have sex while Jared sleeps in the bathtub.

"Sex is so much better when that annoying guy I hate is sleeping in the bathroom just mere feet away from us!"

That’s also how you have a good road trip! If you just reversed these two – have them all in the same car, but in different hotel rooms – it would be perfectly normal, but I guess that’s not Rest Stop.

What is Rest Stop is watching a supposedly grown adult driving a car with headphones on and playing with dinosaur toys, complete with goofy voices, while driving. Those are excellent ways to get into a car accident and die. Please, keep doing them!

Are you five years old? What the hell? This is just glanced over and never mentioned again, making it just a WTF moment. Thanks for that, movie!
There IS a thing called car speakers and a CD player, you jackass. You can always wait to listen to the latest Lady Gaga album until you get to where you're going otherwise.

To complete the triage of annoyance, he also does nothing but fart while in the car. OK, I see why they didn’t want to drive with this guy now.

He stops at a porta-potty just randomly inserted on the side of the road, and is SO SURPRISED when it has no toilet paper:

Yeah, next you'll be telling me these porta-potties DON'T have proper sewage systems for good hygiene after using them! I am just so utterly shocked!

Fortunately the killer comes to rectify his shitty situation:

Every horror movie would be better with scenes of the main character swimming in his own shit. Ohhh yeah Rest Stop 2, keepin' it classy as fuck!

So is he just attacking random porta potties now? Should the movie title be changed to “Porta Potty”?

Meanwhile at the actual Rest Stop, Marilyn goes to the bathroom and hears some noises while in the stall, which she immediately assumes are Tom coming in and then begins asking if it’s him repeatedly. Because any activity in the girl’s bathroom MUST be him coming in. It could never be anyone else in that public restroom! I wonder if she pulls the same shit in the Walmart or Target bathrooms – just calling out Tom’s name while sitting on the toilet every time she hears someone new enter the bathroom. Oh horror movies, always playing to our most socially awkward moments of total idiocy.

We do get an actual scary bit when she hears Nicole crying in the stall, opens it to find no one there, and then goes outside only to hear whimpering and crying and shuffling from inside again – then goes back in to find that it’s now a decrepit hellhole and not at all the clean bathroom she thought she was in. It’s actually an effective scene, and perhaps the only remotely frightening one in either Rest Stop movie.

Unfortunately the film realized that it reached its "one scary moment per two films" quota, and then decided it didn’t have to try anymore.

We get Jared finding the ghost of Nicole in the woods, only she’s played by a different actress – the funniest part is that this actress is actually better than the girl who played Nicole in the other movie. They sit down and she tells him how she was tortured and stuff. Because that’s instant sexual ambrosia, they start having sex on the blanket he bought with him, but it turns out she wasn’t really there and he had just gotten naked all by himself there in the woods.

Hate it when that happens! Also, why did he bring two different types of underwear with him on this trip?

You mean you DON'T pack tighty whities and boxer shorts at the same time?! Loser.

Then he goes and finds Marilyn at the other rest stop and they talk about how they saw Nicole. Because he’s blushing, she instantly deduces that he slept with the ghost of Nicole – I guess Marilyn just has a lot of experience with the sexual politics of the undead and anticipated this happening, because otherwise I have no idea how you’d deduce that!

Then we switch over to Tom, who’s getting tortured in the Rest Stop Killer’s Magic Rainbow Bus. We get an entirely too long scene of him threatening the killer, because I’m sure after the twelfth time he says “YOU BETTER NOT HURT ME” the killer will go “Oh, you’re right, I’ll stop now. My bad. How could I be so rude? Let's instead sit down for tea and crumpets, and talk about Blackadder, Manchester United and the Queen.”

That doesn’t happen, but it’d be funnier and more worth putting on-screen than the torture garbage we do get:

Boy, the Magic School Bus reboot isn't as fun as I thought it'd be.

He escapes and finds his brother Jesse, played by the same actor from the first movie, locked up in a cage with no tongue. The two of them escape in Tom’s truck and drive for a while, just wasting screen-time with insipid dialogue, all leading to the punch-line that, whoops, Jesse was never really there anyway! He was a ghost the whole time!

How do ghosts even work in these movies? They’re corporeal until a certain time interval passes – never the same for any of them – and then they’re just revealed as ghosts? I don’t think the writer for this movie ever watched Ghostbusters as a kid. Clearly Slimer and inderdimensional portals of Gozer are the only ways to do a ghost movie right! Well, unless you have Patrick Swayze I guess.

They all find each other again, somehow, and go to the gas station from earlier, where they find the gas station man. He tells them the only way to kill the killer is by burning his eyeballs, which nobody knows where they are. Apparently this is all part of some Indian ritual or something, which is especially baffling because everyone involved is white and likely has no ties to Native American religion, and has probably never even heard of it. But whatever, who needs logic now?

Also, how would they even know which eyeballs belong to the killer if they DID happen across a bunch of eyeballs? I dunno. Fuck logic anyway. Didn't you hear me just a paragraph ago? Fuck logic in the ass. Just obey the movie’s subtitle and don’t look back at whatever plot you made up while high on meth in five minutes. Plots are just inconvenient anyway, and a tool for the weak and powerless!

The killer and gas station man (who was working for the killer, I guess) tie up Jared and Marilyn and take Marilyn’s shirt off for some reason – because the movie hadn’t reached its boob quota yet. They force Jared to drill into her thigh because she was, apparently, unfaithful to Tom while he was overseas in the military. How does the killer know that? Why did the gas station man tell them how to beat the killer if he was working with him?

...Didn't you hear me the other two times? FUCK LOGIC FOREVER! The end is right around the corner! Just show some boobs and gore and that’s all you need.

"We could have just killed both of our victims, and neither movie has shown us to do ANYTHING like this to our victims before, but hey, that wouldn't allow us this SUPER COOL climax coming up!"

Then we get the final battle, which is really riveting as now most of the characters are limping around:

Yes, the heroes hobbling on one gimp-ass leg each slowly to battle. You sure know how to get the blood pumping, movie!

They don’t even really find the killer’s eyes; they just kinda kick him around and then blow him up – glad the burning-eyes thing was in the film at all when it had zero relevance to anything.

We then switch to a scene some time later where Tom and Marilyn are in bed – but whoops, Marilyn’s actually a ghost the whole time and the killer apparently got her off screen! Tom is still completely fine somehow. How did the killer get HER alone and not him when they'd both been together the entire time? Maybe it's implied that she got killed by the drill back in the gas station, but I dunno, that seems like it'd be giving the movie too much credit for subtlety.

"It's okay, honey, you don't have to put Rest Stop: Don't Look Back on your resume. Just forget about it like I do: by drinking a lot of alcohol."

This whole movie was nonsense. It tried to have more of a plot than the first one did, and even attempted to explain a few things. Unfortunately, it didn’t even really do that very well – the whole story feels half-assed and unfinished. I really mean that, as the ways they try to explain the stuff from the first movie come off as rather hasty back-tracking – “look, we CAN explain the randomness from the last one, honest!” But very little actual importance or drama is attached to anything that goes on, so it's not like you get invested in the story, even when they do try to have one.

I really think they just had zero real ideas and wanted an excuse to show off boobs, gore and explosions. I think this would have been a more enjoyable movie had it simply stuck to the idiocy and complete unabashed randomness of the first movie, which, while technically a worse film, was also more entertaining than this. As is, while this has a couple funny scenes, it’s short-change compared to the first Rest Stop film. All in all, a disappointment. Shame on you Rest Stop, I expected better!

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