"Rest Stop: Dead Ahead (Unrated)" Blu-ray Review
October 17, 2008 by Zach Demeter
The first in Warner Home Video’s Raw Feed line, Rest Stop: Dead Ahead has already spawned a sequel, but this is the original that started off the successful line of direct-to-video horror flicks. Now arriving for the first time on Blu-ray, Rest Stop: Dead Ahead is uncut and in full high-definition glory. Although it comes with a short run time, the horror is non-stop in this bloodbath and fans of the Raw Feed line will surely be pleased by the levels of excess that this film is taken to.
Jess is at the wheel. Nicole rides shotgun. At the end of the road stretching before them is glamorous Hollywood. They’re on a road trip, all right…straight to hell. When the runaway lovers pause at an abandoned rest stop, Jess disappears. And someone else appears – with his own demented sense of fun. With drills. Staple guns. Box cutters. All the tearing, grinding, ripping tools needed to hew wood. Or metal. Or people. Especially young, pretty people just like Nicole. Director Jon Shiban, writer and executive producer of The X-Files and Supernatural, keeps the terrors and twists coming, each out-shocking the last. Stop. Stay awhile. But don’t expect to rest.
It seemed a shame to have to review the sequel to this film without seeing the first one. In some backwards way, Warner sent me the two in complete opposite order, a week apart, and I had no idea this first film was coming otherwise I may have waited it out so I could watch the sequel not completely lost. Still, it was almost interesting to watch this one second because I got to see what started the Raw Feed line—and I have to say…I’m actually kind of disappointed. This first Rest Stop actually received poorer reviews than its sequel, but after watching the two I’m finding it hard to see why. At their core, they’re the same film…just one as Joey Lawrence.
This first film feels a bit fresher than its sequel, as can be expected, although I’m oddly feeling this even after watching the sequel first. In any case, the plot and brutality in this one is just about as fun to watch, with plenty of absurd characters and some truly brutal splatter scenes to fill up the screen. I’ve grown accustomed to blood pouring at this point, but these films still make me laugh at times with how insane it can get. It was interesting to see the open-ended elements that made way for the sequel and the truly unsettling moments in the few are just that—unsettling. The film does borrow from a few other horror films that preceded it, but if this is what launched Warner’s Raw Feed line then I can see why they continued it. It’s not the most original and it isn’t the scariest, but it is a genuinely entertaining slasher flick with a few new gross innovations of its own.
I don’t have much more to add than what the plot synopsis and the few bits I’ve already typed—it’s pretty basic as far as horror films go, but despite being direct-to-video the acting is pretty good quality (aside from that one cop…what the hell), as are the effects and directing. The gritty atmosphere of it all just adds to the tension that Rest Stop: Dead Ahead creates. Recommended.
Warner Home Video brought out this film on DVD originally, but with the Raw Feed line recently going Blu-ray, it seemed fitting to bring their first outing along for the ride as well. Arriving in a standard Blu-ray Elite case and the usual array of inserts (Update your firmware!), nothing else is inside the packaging but the disc. As with all Warner titles, this one auto-plays, so the only menu we get is a small little pop-up function. Not bad, but not the fanciest either.
Moving onto the feature itself we get a VC-1 encoded 1080p 1.85:1 transfer that is a tad bit less impressive than the sequel that it spawned. Still, like the sequel, the levels here are dark and moody with a ton of grain splattered across the picture to enhance the mood. Everything about this film screams “torture” and the video transfer is just one of those many elements. Character, clothing and splatter detail is high and anyone with weak stomachs may get slightly urpy at the site of some of the splatters in this film with such clarity. Audio is a TrueHD English 5.1 mix that makes solid use of the surrounds, although it could have done better in some spots. As is though this is a solid mix and one that definitely makes for an entertaining watch and listen. An alternate Dolby Digital English 5.1 track is available as well, as are English, French, Spanish and Japanese subtitles.
And that wraps up…hey wait a minute. Unlike the other Raw Feed Blu-ray titles, this one actually has extras! Granted there isn’t much here, but they at least included something this time around. First up is three “horrific” alternate endings which really don’t change much, although the one actually chosen for the film is the superior of the four. “On the Bus” is a montage of bus slaughter photos shown in the film, while “Scotty’s Family Album” is a home video style extra that’s shot in-character by one of the central characters in the film. Finally we have the films trailer, which wraps up our short extras list.
Overall not a bad release and certainly better than the previous Raw Feed releases, although considering they had zero extras on them, that isn’t exactly hard to beat. Still, this one is worth the upgrade if you’re a fan of the film as it’s rather budget priced. Recommended.
Rest Stop: Dead Ahead is now available on Blu-ray.