New Zealand 1955. On a cold and lonely night a passing motorist investigates an abandoned car at an isolated rest stop. Our hapless hero finds himself caught in a series of gruesome accidents.
DIRECTOR’S NOTES - Roseanne Liang
“Rest Stop is a comedy of accidents that pays homage to a classic era of goodies and baddies, emulating a killer style that is thrilling to watch and even better to laugh at. Its sheer surreal craziness is comedy at its most unique.
It’s about folly. It’s about fate. It’s about lady luck, and how she’ll do you over given half the chance. It’s also about her warped sense of humour. Is it a slapstick farce or a cautionary tale? Either way, like some whimsical car crash, I find it impossible to look away.
From rear projection to recreating an external location in an internal set, I was excited by the prospect of matching the unique comedy with an equally unique ‘film-imitating-film-imitating-reality’ style. For years I’ve loved the subtle theatrical feel of Hitchcock’s painted backdrops, the unsettling effect of his ‘outdoor’ sets. Call me sentimental, but if every stroke of genius is a lucky misreckoning, then cost-effective filmmaking in the 1950s was cinematic inspiration.
Inspiration also came from the titular rest stops that lie in wait by the lonely New Zealand country road. The shapes of the native bush (the uncurling fronds of ferns, the spiky pom-poms of cabbage trees), set in the moonlight, creates the perfect mood for shady grave-digging and midnight fist fights. A noir film set in the New Zealand bush is an uncommon, and delightfully sublime combination.
It was wonderful to see the characters of Rest Stop embodied in a trio of such gifted actors. Jochen Fitzherbert also wrote the film, and his natural screen presence and brilliant comedic timing is a joy to watch. Having admired the acting clout of Scott Wills and Bruce Hopkins in numerous plays (Danny And The Deep Blue Sea) and films (Lord of The Rings: Two Towers & Return Of The King), I got a huge kick out of seeing them both on my humble set. They were, as expected, wonderful to work with, and equally wonderful to watch.
This film is my first since graduating from film school. I was blown away by the warmth of the talented and professional crew. The trials of the obligatory learning curve were all but forgotten amidst the calming atmosphere they created around me.
I am very grateful to Karla Rodgers for her staunch support, her guidance, and sheer hard work throughout the whole process. I couldn’t wish for a more stellar job in making Rest Stop happen.”
2005 - Taipei Golden Horse Festival, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Hofer Filmtage, Ourense International Independent Film Festival, Interfilm Berlin.
Colour, 35 mm