Lifetime Film Review: Stressed to Death (dir by Jared Cohn)

Stressed to death?

Hey, I hear you, sister.  We live in a stressful world.  I mean, it’s the holidays.  Not only do I have to make sure that all the members of my family have a merry gift-giving season but I also have to make sure that they know exactly what to buy me.  On top of that, I’ve got a hundred movies that I still need to see, I’ve got Oscar season to keep up with, and I’ve got to keep this site updated with interesting information.  Seriously, I can understand how you can get stressed to death….

Of course, the lead character in the Lifetime film, Stressed to Death, is suffering from maybe a little bit more stress than even I am.  Having served in the middle east, Maggie (Gina Holden) has finally returned home and is now working as an EMT.  She’s still haunted by flashbacks to one particularly harrowing firefight but she’s determined to get on with her life.  She’s got a loving husband, Jason (Jason Gerhardt), and a daughter and a job that allows her to help people.  But then, one night, she comes across a robbery taking place in a convenience store.  An obviously deranged man has shot one man and is pointing his gun at a pregnant woman.  When Maggie enters the store, she explains that she’s just an EMT and she’s here to save lives.  She says that she just wants to take the man and the woman out of the store and get them medical attention.  The gunman replies that she can only take one of them out of the store and he demands that she choose which one.  Maggie chooses to save the pregnant woman.  The robber than shoots the man to death.

Ten years later, Maggie is still haunted by that night.  Her husband has a good job and they now live in a big house.  Her daughter, Jane (Taylor Blackwell), is now a teenager and, while she’s somewhat of an outcast at school, she’s also extremely intelligent and appears to have a great future ahead of her.  Maggie thinks that she’s ready to return to work as an EMT but, as her supervisor tells her, PTSD is nothing to take chances with.

Jason’s boss, Victoria (Sarah Aldrich), often complains that Jason isn’t ruthless enough.  While Jason always wants to be a nice guy, Victoria insists that Jason should take no prisoners when it comes to making money.  As critical as Victoria is, she also says that she appreciates the fact that Jane is tutoring her son.  Of course, what neither Jason nor Maggie know is that Victoria is the widow of the man who was murdered in that convenience store.  Victoria has waited ten years for vengeance and now, she’s determined to get it….

Stressed to Death starts with an interesting idea but then it eventually becomes a standard Lifetime abduction film, as two hitmen kidnap Jane and Maggie tries to rescue her daughter.  The PTSD angle is never explored as much as the film’s title might lead you to expect.  I mean, yes, Maggie is stressed but I imagine that even someone who has never served in the military would be equally stressed if their daughter was kidnapped by two hired killers.   That said, Gina Holden did a good job in the role of Maggie and I liked that the character of Jane wasn’t just another typically perfect daughter.  Instead, she was kind of quirky and easy to root for.  As played by Sarah Aldrich, Victoria was an interesting villain.  Though her plans were evil, you could sympathize with her pain and that’s an important thing.  She wasn’t just a cardboard evil person.  Instead, she was someone who was suffering just as much Maggie, Jason, and Jane.

It’s hard not to feel that Stressed to Death missed a few opportunities but it was still a diverting Lifetime film.