Autodidact: self-taught


The Perfect Host

by V. L. Craven

Perfect Host

John Taylor (Clayne Crawford) has just robbed a bank of a considerable sum and the cops are after him so he has to dump his car.

He blags his way into Warwick Wilson’s (David Hyde Pierce) house by saying he’s just got back from seeing a mutual friend, Julia, in Sydney–he found a postcard from her in the post box.

But the airline lost his luggage and he’s been mugged and the cousin he’s supposed to be staying with won’t be home for awhile. blah blah.

Warwick is hesitant to let him in, as he’s expecting several guests for a dinner party. But Julia would never forgive him so… come on in complete stranger with the bizarre story.

One thing leads to another and eventually Warwick discovers his guest isn’t who he says he is.

That’s all right, though, because Warwick isn’t exactly the most stable of human beings in the world, either.

What's happening here is even better than it looks.

What’s happening here is even better than it looks.

I love bad-guy-meets-worse-bad-guy films/TV. I knew that was the premise of this one, but I didn’t know what I was in for and it was so much fun!

David Hyde Pierce was clearly enjoying the hell out of himself. I had no idea what was going to happen at any time but laughed out loud multiple times.

Look, petty criminals–you never know when you’re going to stumble upon a total lunatic. Just stay home.

Unpredictable and hilarious, I highly recommend this one.


[Oh yes, apropos of nothing–one of the detectives looking for Taylor was Nathaniel Parker. He plays Inspector Lynley. His American accent was perfect, but every time he was on screen I’d think  What? Why are you in California being American in this teeny indie film? ]


The Suicide Theory

by V. L. Craven


Percival (Leon Cain) has been having no luck killing himself. He’s tried–honestly he has–but it’s not working.

Eventually he hires Steven (Steve Mouzakis), a hitman, figuring if anyone knows how to terminate another person’s life it’ll be someone who gets paid to do so.

Steven listens to his newest client’s inability-to-die problem (not believing a word of it) and shoots him multiple times.

It doesn’t work.

The two men form an odd sort of friendship based on shared tragedy–they’ve both lost their partners to tragedy.

Percival tries to work out why he’s still here–he believes fully in Fate. There must be a reason he can’t die. He must need to do something before he’s allowed to die.

Steven doesn’t buy it, even after trying other ways to kill his employer and friend, there are always ways to explain how he survived.

Then something happens and he begins to come round to Percival’s way of thinking. What if even he , someone who’s killed who-knows-how-many people, was alive for a reason?

Fate’s a funny thing, though.

Suicide Theory2

Pictured: a man clearly loving life.

Netflix recommended this one to me based on other things I’ve liked, which can be hit or miss, but this one was a winner. Dark and unpredictable (though, I admit, at the end I did think, ‘I should have seen that coming.’) and occasionally funny, it was worth the watch.




by V. L. Craven


Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is out very late one night, doing something less than legal when he sees the aftermath of a fiery car wreck. Two men (one is Bill Paxton) are filming the carnage and rescue efforts to sell to the news. Bloom is fascinated by this and gets a camera and a police scanner.

He begins going to crime scenes (competing with Paxton) and selling regularly to one station in particular, dealing primarily with the morning news director Nina (Rene Russo).

But getting the most interesting shots and the best stories sometimes means doing little things the police frown upon. Like tampering with evidence…withholding evidence…putting innocent lives at stake to be in place when a story breaks.

Louis Bloom has no problem with any of those things, though. He’s found his calling. And nothing is going to stand in his way.

Looking a little Patrick Bateman-esque here. Fitting, really.

Looking a little Patrick Bateman-esque here. Fitting, really.

Nightcrawler is unlike anything I’ve seen–I didn’t know where it was going. The writing and acting and directing were superb.

Gyllenhaal was excellent. Louis Bloom relates to other humans in an unusual way–detached and almost Asperger-like, but with sociopathological undertones. He is a malicious, bizarre, but believable guy.

I highly recommend this one. 5/5


The Nirvana Plague by Gary Glass

by V. L. Craven

Nirvana Plague

It’s 2027 and one of Dr Carl Marley’s most combative schizophrenic patients, Roger Sturgeon, has suddenly become remarkably peaceful. After being committed to a psychiatric hospital his symptoms seem to spread to other patients–no matter their previous psychological history. This is unprecedented and Marley publishes a paper on his findings. The result of which is a no-nonsense Colonel in his office, taking him to Bethesda posthaste where he learns the disease he thought he’d discovered has actually spread far and wide in U.S. troops.

The military wants this problem fixed, pronto, as soldiers overcome by feelings of oneness with the universe aren’t exactly keen to kill the enemy (what is an enemy, anyway?) and fly Marley and a task force to a war zone to meet several troops who’ve taken ill. To say things go badly would be an understatement and the illness begins to spread…somehow.

Marley and the task force are supposed to work out what it is and how it’s spreading, which is difficult enough with a new disease, but it’s hard to know if the government and the CDC are working for or against them with some of the decisions they take.

Meanwhile, Sturgeon’s and Marley’s wives are in the dark about where their husbands are. Once back in the States Marley’s allowed to make the occasional phone call and the women work out the two of them must be in Alaska. They set out on a road trip, but due to federally sanctioned quarantine, they have to take back roads to avoid detection. Then they get into a wreck near the Canadian border…

The Nirvana Plague has everything you could want in a suspense novel. The plot is inventive and fast-paced, the characters well-rounded. I highly recommend it and would absolutely give this book as a gift. Not just to people who enjoy action, but also simply well-written books.

You can get your copy here . Next Monday I’ll be interviewing the author, Gary Glass so be sure to check back then.

[I was given a copy of this to review but was under no obligation to give a positive review.]



by V. L. Craven

Several strangers wind up in a motel in the middle of nowhere in the American southwest, stranded due to a downpour of biblical proportion. One-by-one, the people die, all seemingly on accident. Everyone suspects everyone else. Then, once the survivors are in the same room, the bodies of the deceased begin disappearing.

That story is interspersed with the story of a man scheduled to be put to death, whose psychiatrist argues for a stay of execution upon the discovery of a suppressed piece of evidence. The meeting is between the people with the power to stay his execution.

The end is one of those the-characters-are-all-in-the-main-guy’s-head jobbies, but it’s well-done. And there’s still a twist at the end that’s something of a surprise.

The filmmakers built suspense well and didn’t rely on gore–there’s a little blood and one moment that’s a little yerg, but that’s brief and the exception–which was a nice change. I was genuinely interested in where the story would go. They also had an excellent cast (John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Ray Liotta, Clea Duvall) and everyone held their own. I’d definitely recommend this one.

[I found this through GetGlue , which is a very useful site.]

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