One year after the disappearance of Jesse and Nicole, Jesse’s brother Tom (a corporal in the Army, fresh on leave from Iraq) and two friends are on the trail. Although the police were unable to do anything, these three quickly stumble on the same path from a year before… encountering the religious family, the driver… and more. Will they meet the same fate? I really enjoyed „Rest Stop” and seeing that the same people – most of the original cast (Jaime Alexander is noticeably absent), plus John Shiban and Shawn Papazian – had returned, I figured this one couldn’t be too bad. But my feelings are mixed. While some of it was pretty good, other aspects came across as lacking. I’ll start with the defects and then go back to the merits.
The casting confused me. Both Tom Hilts (Richard Tillman) and his friend Jared (Graham Norris) weren’t overly likable, and they came across as awkward. I had no interest in caring about them. The girlfriend (Jessie Ward) was good as far as being the „sexy chick”, but beyond that had little to offer. Was I supposed to care about her? The other big concern was that while the creators had said they wanted to expand the mythology of the first film, almost every scene was covering the same territory all over again. It’s true that new details about the driver emerged, and there was some added mythology, but not really enough to make this film seem progressive.
My final concern was the use of torture. I understand torture was used in the first film on the bus, but it seems like it was increased for this flick. For no particular reason. Having one character be turned on another? Excruciatingly painful incidents that do little or nothing in punishing sin, as near as I can tell. If you’re going to use torture, use it sparingly. The torture meme has taken over horror and I have been sick of it for some time now… it’s not scary, it’s just getting played out and boring.
But the film is not without its merits. There’s a great bathroom scene… an intense sex scene which could have gone further but goes pretty far as it is… and more of those creepy twins. The use of gritty filming (like in „Devil’s Rejects”) returns, which I think adds a lot of character (and should be used more, not less). And for those who liked the first film, this fills in some blanks that may have been lingering in the minds of viewers.
Overall, „Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back” was not a necessary part of the series and could have gone without being made. I feel that for what was added, it wasn’t nearly enough. At the same time, the film sets the stage for a „Rest Stop 3”, since now there’s bound to be questions needing answers for some people. I’m curious. I don’t know if they can adequately answer my concerns about the plot, but they have my endorsement if they are willing to try. Just please… more plot, less torture.