Motivational self-help gurus are somewhat aberrant figures when you get down to it. With devout fans pillaging their self-indulgent works hoping to find some morsel of direction to their lives, these guys are often the most messed up themselves.
From Rooster Films comes a new dark thriller series called Luke 11:17 examining the many sides of Luke Vincent, a world-renown best-selling self-help author and speaker. The charming and dapper Vincent, played by Ryan V Cafeo, bursts on to stage right from the onset to a teeming crowd hanging on his every word.
Now, the whole premise of Luke Vincent makes an obvious nod to Tom Cruise’s Frank T.J. Mackey in Magnolia (1999), complete with musical intros littered with magazine covers and brooding headshots. His seemingly noble acts of beneficence hint at some other darker motives. Women? Sure, he has those. Drugs? Clearly this guy has his demons.
By the end of episode one, we peel back the onion a little on this Luke character, witnessing a troubled loner darting from one gig to the next filling idle time trying to mute his own internal voices. Chasing down women and the white horse with a chilling tenacity, he is unyielding in his obsession. What unfolds about two episodes in is his next layer – a vicious one that really makes this series more like an indie-Magnolia meets American Psycho.
The show is now four episodes deep, with a new one out every Wednesday. Directed by Don Stark (Bob Pinciotti from That 70′s Show) this is the first series from newcomer Rooster Films. Executive Producer Christopher Sherman, a partner at Rooster with Ryan Cafeo, put the project together on a budget of around 50k for the eight episodes that are being released this fall. He says they developed it in-house, while later bringing in Michael Caissie and Charles Huttinger to join the writing team.
The sultry Chrishell Stause (Amanda Dillon on All My Children) also stars along with an impressive cadre of beauties including Jasmine Waltz and Sarah Butler. No doubt some of the early fans of the series are coming out of the soap world.
Luke has a story compelling enough to keep you hooked through its 9-minute episodes. The thriller is shot well for its budget and boasts a serviceable suspense track to punch it up a bit when things get slow. I do wish that the Luke character’s fame was established a bit more before delving into his vapid dark side. But I will certainly keep watching for the next four from this sexy thriller that delves deep into the homicidal narcissism of a professed exemplar.