The first of Warner’s “Raw Feed” direct-to-video horror films to receive a sequel, Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back indicates that the first one must have done well enough to warrant a second run around. With lackluster reviews surrounding the first film, one wonders exactly what Warner hoped to glean from this sequel, which is nothing more than a retread of the same material, with the violence and gore kicked up a notch.
Starting a year after the events of the last film, Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back starts off with Tom Hilts (Richard Tillman) returning from Iraq and setting out in search of his missing brother, Jess (Joey Mendicino). Hilt’s girlfriend and friend join him in his search in an attempt to accomplish what no one else had been able to do: bring his brother home. Shortly into their journey, however, Hilts begins to be attacked and hounded by the same truck driving killer that took everyone out in the first film. Along the way Hilts runs into the ghosts of Jess and his girlfriend Nicole (Julie Mond), as Hilt and crew attempt to escape from ending up with the same fate as his brother.
So if Otis was a horror comedy, what is Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back? Supernatural horror? I mean, sure, ghosts aren’t anything new in the horror genre but to have them combined into a film that is essentially grounded in reality (aside from an opening that likely won’t ever leave my mind…seriously, what the **** was that?). This does allow the film to change it up and not become the usually stale slasher flick, but one thing’s for certain—I’ve only seen two of the Raw Feed films and both are weird as hell.
While the ghost thing would normally be a huge spoiler in a film and one I tend to avoid making in my reviews, I felt obligated to talk about it here. Why? Well several reasons, the first being that they’re mentioned in the damn description on the back of the box, so you’re left with little choice but to already know about it. Secondly they’re the only thing that keeps an otherwise generic cast of miscreants from becoming nothing more than yawn-inducing fodder. I rooted for them at first, but by the end I got so annoyed by Hilt’s boozy girlfriend and Shaggy-like friend that I wanted to see them get offed.
Of course the characters all get their due, as there is plenty of torture (power drills? You better believe it!), but don’t expect that to be the only sign of blood and gnashing in the film. In all the film is just a brutal time to be had and on more than a few occasions I actually turned away slightly as to not witness the full blow, only to rewind it and then keep my eyes open because it was so brutally awesome. Without a doubt there are some fantastic “Holy ****!” moments, but that just isn’t enough to recommend something on by itself.
Sadly there is little more to this film than torture porn. Granted there are some “out there” moments, including some port-o-potty hijinks, but in all I just…well, I don’t know what I expected from this film to be honest. In that regard I can’t be too disappointed as I expected next to nothing and instead was mildly entertained, so…where do you cut this one? It’s not horrible, it’s not great, hell it’s not even really worth watching, yet it’s not something that I want to just readily dismiss. It’s certainly just your run of the mill direct-to-video trash, but it’s also slightly better than that at the same time. It’s not as if these Raw Feed films have a truly redeeming quality, but perhaps to get you in the Halloween spirit a quick viewing is in order, at the very least.
Overall whether you see this movie is going to largely depend on your enjoyment of out-there horror films that seem to have broken off the Saw wagon and ended up somewhere between Casper, with a little less friendly. Give it a Rental if you’re curious, as if you’re into that genre then you’re bound to be entertained, even briefly. Plenty of eye gouging and tongue knifing to go around.
In similar Otis fashion, Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back arrives in stripped down form, without any of the DVD extras accompanying it. The disc itself arrives in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with the usual no-frills Warner pop-up menu. So while you may want the Blu-ray edition for its superior video and audio, you may be hard pressed to pick it up over its DVD brethren as it really lacks pretty much everything but the movie itself.
Although I was disappointed by Otis, Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back looks quite impressive in its VC-1 encoded 1080p transfer. The contrast is blown out and the grain levels are through the roof, but it’s all mastered brilliantly so none of it looks smeared and there’s plenty of depth and detail left to truly feel like you’re watching a high-definition film. I was amazed at some of the torture sequences as seeing it in high-definition makes it feel almost entirely different. In all this is a great transfer and one that’s backed up by an equally surprising TrueHD track that thumps the room and spreads out rubber across the speakers as the truck pounds down the road. It’s certainly one of the impressive direct-to-video mixes I’ve ever heard from a film and I was truly blown away by the visual and aural quality of the film. After being so disappointed by Otis, it was rather nice to see that the Raw Feed line wasn’t always half-assing it. At least not in the technical area.
But in the extras area it does. There is nothing here; granted the DVD edition wasn’t exactly packed either, but at least it had something. It’s not as if there isn’t room to toss some extras on here and it makes for a curious release to intentionally cripple the Blu-ray release when comparing it to the oddly superior DVD edition. In all you may just want to Rent this one. The lack of extras really just makes for a disappointing release, even if the video and audio quality is quite good.
Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.