I love road trips. I love hitting the open road with great company on hand heading towards some sort of epic event. What I don’t love are those creepy abandoned rest stops along the road that you would wisely choose to continue driving by. The main characters in John Shiban’s Rest Stop (2006) didn’t think too hard about their surroundings when taking a break on their trip. Rest Stop is a female-led horror movie that has some minor issues but overall is a good film. A classic? No, but it does do the job of quenching your horror appetite if you need a quick fix.
Aspiring actress Nicole (Jaimie Alexander) is a Texas girl leaving her life behind to head to Los Angeles with her boyfriend Jesse (Joey Mendicino) to see if they can make it there. While traveling the two have an encounter with a truck on the road almost causing them to have an accident. The two settle at a rest stop and when Nicole returns to the car she finds that Jess is missing. Stranded, confused, and afraid it wasn’t long before Nicole starts getting terrorized by the sadist in the truck from earlier. Nicole has to figure out a way to last throughout the night from this deranged truck driver.
There’s not a lot to be said about Rest Stop since it’s such a linear movie. The movie has one setting to focus on, and Nicole goes through the motions of being in a horror movie in the enclosed environment. There are some parts of the movie that I felt were unnecessary and we could’ve gone without, and there’s really no resolution or character progression but for the sake of a general horror movie, it’s not terrible to watch. The special effects are good; there is a lot of blood and enough torture to make our villain appear barbarous. The film feels more like a horror movie exercise which is great, but I felt that it needed a little more to elevate it to an even more interesting horror movie. An element I enjoyed was that you never see the terrorizer’s face, I think that assisted a lot in contributing to the films’ eeriness.
I don’t think that Rest Stop is for everyone, if you’re seasoned and take your horror seriously then the movie might be a pass for you. However, even though it felt like an exercise it wasn’t a film that I strongly hated, I had no problems with it other than some plot holes. I would say at the least give Rest Stop a try, you have nothing to lose by watching it. If you’re in between a movie marathon I would say that Rest Stop would be the movie that you put on to neutralize the extremes you’ve been watching and provide a nice break in between features. It’ll also remind you not to take any breaks at empty rest stops while traveling.