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.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #202: Erasing His Dark Past (dir by Jared Cohn)

Last night, I turned over to the Lifetime Movie Channel and I watched Erasing His Dark Past.

Why Was I Watching It?

So, October isn’t even over yet and Lifetime has already decided that they’re going to start with the Christmas movies!  That’s right — the next two months are just going to be Christmas cheer on my favorite channel!  And listen, I love Christmas.  You know that about me.  I love any holiday that involves me getting presents!  But seriously, it’s too soon for the Christmas movies!

So, instead of watching a Christmas movie last night, I switched over the Lifetime Movie Network and I got caught up with Erasing His Dark Past.

(Don’t worry, everyone!  The holiday spirit will possess me soon and I’ll happily be watching every Christmas movie on Lifetime!)

What Was It About?

David (Michael Welch) has a dark past and he needs to erase it!  What better way to do that than to disappear after a plane crash?

Everyone thinks that David is dead but his wife, Karen (Lauren Fortier), has her doubts.  Those doubts turn out to be justified when she discovers that David had all sorts of weird financial stuff going on.  By vanishing (or dying or whatever he did), he’s basically left Karen broke and in a lot of trouble.  Was David just bad with money or was it all a part of his criminal scheme?

And could it be that David may have had a ….. second family!?

What Worked?

Micheal Welch did a good job as David, I thought.  He came across as being sinister enough to fake his own death and charismatic enough to pull it off.

Fans of the classic film To Kill A Mockingbird will want to keep an eye out for Scout herself, Mary Badham, playing a sympathetic bank employee.

What Did Not Work?

There have been several Lifetime films about husbands faking their own death and running off to their second family.  In fact, it’s become a bit of cliche that you should never trust a husband in a Lifetime film.  Unfortunately, as a result, there was really no shock in discovering that David wasn’t actually dead.  We knew it was going to happen as soon as he first appeared.  To a certain extent, their predictability is one of the things that make Lifetime films enjoyable but still, it was a little bit to easy to see the direction in which Erasing His Dark Past was heading.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

This was one of those rare films where there really weren’t any “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moments.  I’ve never been married so I’ve never had to deal with a husband faking his own death and running off with all of my money.  I guess I should consider myself lucky in that regard.

Lessons Learned

If there’s no body, there’s no proof.