One doppelganger with pepperoni and extra cheese is the recipe for “Delivered ,” an amiable, comedy-spiced thriller about a pizza delivery guy’s worst nightmare come true. Smartly put across by an appealing cast and helmer Guy Ferland (“The Babysitter,” “Telling Lies in America”), pic serves up a flavorful portrait of life among underachieving Seattle slackers and grungers whose post-grad work tends to smell of dough and tomato sauce. Though it’s perhaps too lightweight and genre-bound to clean up in a wide theatrical bow, creative distribution could deliver this polished Gen-X fable to an appreciative following among collegiate and twentysomething auds.
An embittered college dropout and aspiring cartoonist, Will Sherman (David Strickland) has a particularly bad night delivering pies when he shows up at a run-down house where, unbeknownst to him, the sinister-looking man who receives the pizza has just killed the guy who ordered it.
The murderer, Reed (Ron Eldard), soon realizes that he’s left behind someone who can link him to the crime scene. But when he swipes a tape-recorded diary in which Will confesses some of his Nietzsche-influenced beliefs about genius and exceptional men, Reed begins to develop an obsession with the life of the witness he intends to eliminate.
Will meanwhile is so mired in his life’s many levels of failure, including his botched relationship with Claire (Leslie Stefanson), an architecture student , that he doesn’t notice that he’s being pursued by a homicidal maniac until people he knows begin dying and the cops note that some of the evidence points to him.
The victims include the philosophy professor who drove him from college, Claire’s new boyfriend and a Deadhead who works for the same pizza palace that Will does. The tale’s tightly wound climax comes when Reed sets his malevolent sights on Claire, aiming to eradicate Will’s love interest and implicate him in the crime.
Psychological readings of such tales usually posit hero and villain as halves of the same split self, but “Delivered” isn’t attempting anything quite so subtle or Hitchcockian. Andrew Liotta and Lawrence Trilling’s well-crafted script has its fun staying on the surface of its cat-and-mouse game of diabolical pursuit. Best of all, though, is its droll satirizing of a certain post-collegiate lifestyle while delivering the expected helpings of suspense and surprise.
Ferland does a spirited and very pro job keeping these elements in motion, although some viewers might argue that the milieu might be served by a grungier look. Helmer also draws winning perfs from his cast, especially Strickland and Eldard, who are well matched as the dough boy and his dark nemesis. Among the supporting players, Scott Bairstow stands out as Will’s fatally laid-back co-worker.
Shane Kelly’s handsome lensing and Deborah Zeitman’s crisp editing lead a full complement of impressive tech credits. Pic also boasts a soundtrack laden with tuneful college rock by the Connells, Limpopo and others.