Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I never had an opportunity to see the first ‘Rest Stop’, at least not completely as I might’ve been channel surfing a couple of times and ran into a scene of Joel Lawrence getting complete wrecked up in a bathroom stall which did pique my interest, but it never completely evolved into actually sitting down and watching the whole movie. From what I hear it was a reasonably effective torture gore horror flick that left most of the audience members completely confused. I suppose this one isn’t all that much different but I didn’t find it all that confusing, and I guess this is a true sequel that attempted to tie up some of the loose ends that abounded for those who saw the original picture.

Big brother Tom (Richard Tillman) is on a ten day furlough from his gig as a U.S. Army corporal war machine to hook back up with his deliciously Skankalicious girlfriend Marilyn (Jesse Ward), and to take a quick trip to California to see what the hell happened to baby brother Jesse and his girlfriend Nicole, who I believed were tortured to death in the first film by the mysterious man in the yellow pickup truck. The trashy girlfriend doesn’t know why he’s doing this since from her vantage point these people are clearly dead, but what the hell, it’s time for a road trip. Red haired step child Jared (Graham Norris) will be joining us on this road trip to provide some Comic Relief.

Our crew, after a motel stay which included sex for our young lovers and a quick encounter with our lunatic, stop off at a gas station run by the always Freaky Gas Station Attendant (Steve Railsback). What the hell is up with these out of the way freaky gas station attendants? He tells our crew, in his freaky way, that he remembers seeing those missing kids and that they took the hidden old California Highway, and they might find them if they go in that direction. Of course they shouldn’t but they do, and now it’s down the old California Highway for some torture and abuse.

Comic relief is mentally tortured first while trying to take a dump in a port-a-potty, and also meets a completely f’d up version of Nicole. And while we recognize that sex probably doesn’t come that often for this cat, a shower for the blood stained Nicole

and Comic Relief washing the dookey off of himself would’ve really been nice. Next thing you know Skankalicious is seeing visions of Nicole followed by Army Boy being snatched up by the mystical torture loon and carted off to the School Bus to ‘get what he deserves’.

As the situation presents itself, Comic Relief and Skankalicious have to track down Army Boy, and to do this info from the Freaky Gas Station Attendant will be critical. Thing is Mystical Torture loon is everywhere and unstoppable. Completely. But thinking back Comic Relief remembers that the filthy dead girl was giving up some vital clues while he was trying to screw her. And Army Boy is free and he’s picked up a road dog in tortured Baby Brother. And somehow all of them must end the reign of the Mystical Torture Loon right here and right now. Good luck with that.

This movie ‘Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back’ was okay I suppose… I mean I’m really not one for the torture that goes on in these kinds of movies but I did like the overall atmosphere and tone that director Shawn Papazian has set for his movie because while it never rose to the level of frightening, it was consistently ominous. I think he could’ve made it more of a fright film if he chose to exploit it as such, but instead the filmmakers opted for the de riguer of torture horror which is just too bad for this movie.

The story itself was still a little confusing though the Freaky Gas Station attendant did serve the purpose of ironing out a lot of this confusion, the villain in the piece didn’t seem to do anything with any rhyme or reason of purpose which kind of neutered him as decent horror villain, since he was a ghost for the most part that tortured people for no reason other than to torture them. The Freaky Family in the Winnebago that we met earlier had the driving force of religion behind their lunacy but they weren’t the main villain in this piece.

One thing I did enjoy about this movie was actress Jesse Ward’s portrayal of the skankalicious character of Marilyn. Usually in movies like this, her character is on board to show her tits and then quickly die off, and while Marilyn did flash some titty, this was some final girl material who like to drink (a lot), who like to screw, who cursed inappropriately, packed a gat and didn’t mind squeezing off a few rounds when necessary. Who couldn’t love girl like that? I personally don’t know anyone like those other final girls in those other movies, but this was a girl I could relate to. Skankalicious!

All in all I am of the opinion that ‘Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back’ was better than average for the genre but it certainly wasn’t transcendent in any kind of way, mostly held back by its scattershot narrative, but dragged along kicking and screaming by one of the better final girls we’ve seen in movies in some time. Love that girl.

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