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Case Number 14660

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Rest Stop: Don't Look Back

Warner Bros. // 2008 // 89 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 3rd, 2008

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All Rise...

Last time he was at a rest stop, Judge David Johnson grabbed a pile of ski brochures. That's all there is to the story. Sorry.

Editor's Note

Our review of Rest Stop: Don't Look Back (Blu-Ray), published September 29th, 2008, is also available.

The Charge

No rest for the wicked.

Opening Statement

The sequel to the surprise slasher hit that I saw but can't quite remember why it was so awesome pits some new young, attractive victims against the diabolical Rest Stop killer.

Facts of the Case

Tom (Richard Tillman) is a decorated combat soldier who's returned from overseas with one mission: to find his little brother, who disappeared with his girlfriend while on a road trip to L.A. The story of their fate was told in the original. So with his plucky comic relief sidekick and his bombshell girlfriend in tow, Tom sets off on his own road trip to figure out what happened to his brother.

It's not long into the trip until the @#$% hits the fan. After the stop at the titular Rest Stop, our heroes are stalked and savaged by a crazy hillbilly killer in a pickup truck. When he gets his victims to his evil lair, it's all about the torture. Meanwhile, a religiously zealous family in an RV with their weird-looking son patrols the roads searching for the next person to freak the heck out.

So there you go, another slab of torture porn, with an added touch of ghosts and nipples and an old Indian legend!

The Evidence

The first Rest Stop was a semi-effective little scarefest, featuring a cool milieu and a whole lot of bloodshed. The premise of a mysterious redneck in a truck that takes pleasure in applying bodily torture through power tools remains largely intact in the sequel. And despite the talk of "mythology" in the making-of featurette, there's not a whole lot added to the storytelling besides some of that half-baked Indian legend stuff.

But Don't Look Back is indeed a direct sequel and even features some guest reappearances by the actors from the first film. That the misadventure isn't a completely new and interesting journey isn't a big deal, considering that the filmmakers have only one goal: to make you squirm with torture scenes.

If "Torture Porn" has become an acceptable genre moniker, then Don't Look Back earns the credentials. There's a hefty amount of build-up to the bloodshed, taken up mainly by developing an eerie atmosphere and popping off some exposition and getting one of the actors soaked in fecal matter. Once those pleasantries are taken care of, it's power tool time and on that level this Rest Stop delivers.

Me, I have little use for torture porn or whatever, but I can objectively say that the zaniness that goes down here is hella-intense. We're talking power drilling into the knee-cap, driving nails in the quads, plucking an eyeball out with a knife, and another batch of drilling, dangerously close to the crotch. What's shocking is that there aren't any cutaways. You want to see the drill bit go into the thigh muscle? Take a nice long look. How about the eyeball and it sticky optic nerve slowly pulled from the socket? Suck it up! The gore effects are top-notch and the blood spews freely, so count on looking away now and then, no matter how strong a constitution you might have.

Unfortunately, the story spins out of control at the homestretch, swapping what could have been a satisfying, bad-ass slice of revenge for convoluted "twist" ending and a meaningless display of pyrotechnics. Also, the killer himself isn't terribly interesting, just another version of the psychotic white trash dude we've seen in legions of other slashers.

The DVD looks and sound great, featuring a slick 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and an active 5.1 Dolby Digital surround mix. Extras: a commentary track from writer/producer John Shiban and director Shawn Papazian, a making-of featurette called "Doomed to Repeat: The Mythology of Rest Stop," an alternate ending that I actually preferred, and a handful of forgettable deleted scenes.

Closing Statement

Rest Stop: Don't Look Back is an uneven horror outing, but should still satiate lovers of torture exhibitionism.

The Verdict

This may not be the bench's cup of tea, but…sure, why not? Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 80
Acting: 75
Story: 75
Judgment: 76

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• 2.40:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
• English
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Action
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Featurette
• Alternate Ending
• Deleted Scenes


• IMDb

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