Warner's Raw Feed Label
Though certainly a cut above the majority of its straight-to-video horror brethren, Rest Stop is ultimately undone by the inclusion of several questionable elements - with the film's flat-out baffling conclusion the most obvious example of this. The admittedly conventional storyline follows a young couple (Jaimie Alexander's Nicole and Joey Mendicino's Jess) as they embark on a road trip from Texas to California and subsequently run afoul of a faceless maniac in a pickup truck. There's little doubt that Rest Stop works best in its opening half hour, as writer/director John Shiban effectively establishes the movie's characters and old-school tone (in terms of the latter, Shiban's thankfully decided to eschew the slick visuals of most contemporary horror flicks and has instead infused the film with a '70s-era vibe). The introduction of a quirky, ultra-religious family that could only exist in a B-movie marks the point at which Rest Stop begins to go off the rails, with Shiban's sporadic use of supernatural elements certainly not helping matters. The introduction of a hapless state trooper (played by erstwhile sitcom star Joseph Lawrence) temporarily elevates the proceedings (there's a long, Saw-esque sequence in which Nicole and Lawrence's character find themselves trapped in a dilapidated bathroom), although the frustratingly vague finale essentially obliterates any positive feelings one might've had about the whole thing.
While Sublime does benefit from a reasonably intriguing premise, the film's execution leaves a whole lot left to be desired; first-time filmmaker Tony Krantz has infused the proceedings with a surreal, David-Lynch-on-drugs sensibility that immediately proves to be disastrous. Tom Cavanagh stars as George Grieves, an affable family man who checks into Mt. Abaddon Hospital for a routine colonoscopy and soon finds himself embroiled in a confusing conspiracy involving mysterious doctors, ancient mysteries, and one unreasonably sinister orderly. Cavanagh's surprisingly effective performance aside, Sublime is uniformly lacking in competent elements - to such an extent that the film remains an unusually tedious and thoroughly infuriating experience over the course of its egregiously overlong running time (113 minutes!) Erik Jendresen's frustratingly abstruse screenplay doesn't even attempt to make a lick of sense, and the scripter seems more concerned with offering up increasingly mind-boggling asides (including a laughable and utterly absurd sequence in which George is accosted by the aforementioned sinister orderly) than with creating interesting characters or a story worth following. Krantz's use of grainy, high-contrast visuals only cements Sublime's status as an unpleasant and flat-out unwatchable piece of work, and it's hard to imagine even the most enthusiastic horror buff finding much of anything worth embracing here.