Melbourne born, now LA based, independent filmmaker Mark Savage delivers a very solid effort with his latest feature as a co-writer and director, Stressed to Kill. A thriller with a darkly comic edge, the film stars Daytime Emmy winner Bill Oberst Jr. as a highly strung everyman who, after suffering a serious heart attack, takes his doctor's advice to eliminate the stressors in his life a bit too literally (hasn't every film buff wanted to murder an inconsiderate cinemagoer who refuses to stop talking or gawking at their mobile phone during a movie?).
Oberst Jr. really delivers a great performance, and has very unique looks that make him appear like a cross between Peter Weller and Reggie Nalder, and he gets strong support from the great Armand Assante, as a cop who harbors some pretty dark and twisted impulses of his own.
Not all of Stressed to Kill works, but the odd bumps in its road are more than compensated for by its high points and overall impact. Savage composes some great shots, and the film delivers a couple of truly amazing sequences during its second half - one when Assante reveals the true nature of his character and psyche, and a climax inside a small cluttered apartment that is terrifically staged and played out, and unlike so many modern films it wraps itself up very nicely and satisfyingly.