This movie committed the cardinal sin. It made me yell at the screen, “Ok, YOU’RE STUPID! YOU DESERVE TO DIE NOW!” That was the point at which the heroine crossed the line at which I ceased to care about her and just wished she’d die and get the movie over with.
The movie is called Rest Stop. It’s about a young woman and her boyfriend who run off to LA together, and stop at some nasty rest stop on a California back road. The rest stop is so nasty that it reminded me of “The Filthiest Toilet In Scotland” Scene from Trainspotting.
The girl goes to the bathroom, comes back out, and her boyfriend and the car are gone without a trace. Things are all downhill for her from there. What follows is 90 minutes of watching the redneck, who’s claimed the rest stop as his own, terrorize and torture this girl.
The film does a good job of building tension and keeping you on edge, but only through artificial means. By that, I mean contrived situations and the stupidity of the heroine. As I was watching this movie, I thought of about a hundred ways it could have been made better. You can have all the scary stuff happen to the young woman, and still have her be a heroine worth rooting for.
She had umpteen chances to escape by simply running away into the forest, away from the bad guy’s scary ol’ pickup truck, AND she had nearly a full minute of watching the bad guy ten feet away while NOT grabbing the dead cop’s gun. When that happened the movie lost me, and I just sat there wishing he would just kill her and get it over with.
The bad guy in this movie is pretty scary – if you find incomprehensible rednecks to be scary – and he has a really creepy backstory that makes for the twist at the end. There is also a disturbing family living at the rest stop in a motor home that hearkens back to The Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
This movie isn’t all bad. I’ve seen worse. But I wish that horror filmmakers would try something NEW (or at least RARE) with horror movie heroines. Make them smart. Make them resourceful. Have them NOT run blindly through a dark forest away from the villain and NOT stumble and fall at the worst possible moment. Have them do all the right things AND STILL get screwed! THAT is scary.