WORST ROOMMATE EVER. (2022) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

WORST ROOMMATE EVER. (2022) A NETFLIX TRUE CRIME DOCU-SERIES DIRECTED BY DOMINI HOFMANN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’d been avoiding this American true crime docu-series as I didn’t think it looked much cop, excuse the pun, but it’s actually a really good, gripping watch about some of the most awful people you could ever possibly imagine moving into your house or flat and living with you as your roommate.

The first of the episodes concerns Dorothea Puente, a sweet-looking little old lady granny-type-figure from Sacramento, but don’t be fooled by the pinnies that she wears, lol. Underneath the mauve eyeshadow and the shampoo and set, Puente was a stone-cold serial killer.

She murdered several of the lonely, elderly tenants who rented rooms in her boarding house in the ‘Eighties and buried their remains in her back garden, like a sort of transatlantic Fred and Rose West. Why did she do it? Mainly so that she could steal their often pitiful Social Security checks, which is the way they spell it in ‘Murica.

By the way, today is Happy ‘Murica Day, isn’t it, so fire up those barbecues and illegal fireworks and have yourselves a great day, but for gosh sakes’ don’t go in the waters round Amity Island because word has it there’s been a sighting of a Great White Shark thereabouts. Hey, y’all can ask Chief Brody if you don’t believe me. He’s right over there, talking to Mayor Murray Hamilton and some square from the Oceanic Institute…

The second episode features a Korean man called K.C. Joy (kind of a misnomer, that), who murdered his roommate, the beautiful college student and former US soldier, Maribel Ramos, probably because she rejected him in love. Men sure don’t take too well to hearing the word ‘no’ sometimes, do they…?

Episode three is about a tall, dark and handsome athlete called Youssef Khater who commits multiple frauds on the people he meets; on his roommates concerning a new apartment building, on a fellow marathon runner regarding property investment, and on the entire Palestinian nation by pretending to be from Palestine in order to weasel sponsorship for his ‘marathons’ from a group of genuine people who try to maintain and improve the good name of Palestine through acts like the sponsorship of a fellow countryman in a big race, the proceeds of which go to charity. He’s Danish, by the way, in case you were wondering…

What a jerk. He’s violent and dangerous too, though, this Youssef fellow, and resorts to attempted murder when his schemes go awry, as they often do. He’s not a very good crook, methinks, hence the ‘attempted’ murders, and doesn’t always seem to think things through, the muppet.

This guy’s currently on the loose, I believe, after serving some jail time, so be warned. His modus operandi is a lot like the Tinder Swindler, the guy who fascinated us briefly earlier in the year. How fleeting is our moment of fame on Netflix. One minute you’re SQUID GAME and flying high, next minute you’re old news and we’re skipping and scrolling merrily in fine fickle fashion down to ‘New Releases…’

The next bad roommate is so awful he has the last two episodes devoted to him. He’s the loathsome Jed Creek, aka Jamison Bachman. Yes, he used aliases! His modus operandi was to use his handsome looks- another tall, dark and handsome criminal- and charm, and even his lovely dog Zachary, to worm his way into an apartment-share, without references and often without even a deposit.

Once in, he’d dig his heels in and refuse to leave, pay rent or stump up for bills. He’d become aggressive and weird as well, obviously his real nature showing through, and rearrange the furniture in the flat or take some of it into his own locked bedroom for his own use.

He seems to have targeted only women for his vile shenanigans, as another man would probably tell him to fuck off or even threaten to punch his lights out if he started in on them. What a despicable coward, seriously, to only choose women as his roommates because he could bully and terrorise them.

The fourth episode shows us Jed Creek in all his awfulness, and in the fifth the three women who had the misfortune to room with him tell us about the lengths they had to go through, both legal and psychological, to get rid of him.

In each case, the women lost the homes that meant so much to them (in one case, someone lost their beloved cats to this man), and it’s all because they were unlucky enough to have the psychopathic Jed Creek answer their hopeful ads on Craigslist.

I guess it just goes to show you that you can never be too careful about who you let in your home, and also just what a lot of crazy people are out there. This series really gives you a glimpse into the dark side of advertising for a roommate.

There are some terrific animated sequences in the programme as well, that serve as reconstructions of the crimes. It’s kind of funny, though, when you see the bad guys’ eyebrows drawing together in a ferocious scowl, ‘cause that’s how you know they’re evil, lol.

Anyway, I won’t say ‘Happy Viewing’ because this is pretty harrowing stuff you’ll be seeing, so I’ll just say Happy Fourth of July, peeps, and watch those fingers when you’re lighting your sparklers, Catherine wheels and assorted rockets. Fireworks can be dangerous…

  AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MADELEINE MCCANN. (2019) A NETFLIX CRIME DOCUSERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MADELEINE MCCANN: A NETFLIX SERIES. (2019)
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I would well believe that this was the most reported-on missing persons case ever, as it is claimed to be. Blonde-haired British Madeleine, aged nearly four, went missing from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve area of Portugal, in May 2007, making this probably the most reported-on family vacation of all time to boot.

Her two-year-old siblings, Sean and Amelie, were asleep nearby at the time. Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, both doctors and practising Roman Catholics- I don’t know what that’s got to do with anything either!- were absent from the apartment at the time.

They were having a boozy holiday dinner in a so-called ‘nearby’ tapas restaurant, but I saw the map of that restaurant in relation to the apartment where the children were sleeping, unsupervised. It may be many things, people, but I would never have deemed it to be ‘nearby.’

I’m probably not the only person who would frown on the notion of leaving kids alone while the parents go out for the night, and for doing this exact thing, the McCanns probably lost a fair amount of public sympathy.

But it seems to have been common enough practice in this resort, even though the resort provided both a babysitting service and a night creche. Why would you not just use one of these, and be safe rather than sorry? Still, it’s easy to be wise in hindsight, and it’s even easier to judge the actions of others.

The ‘Tapas Seven,’ as they are known, all friends of the McCanns’ who dined together on that fateful night, maintain that they were all running back and forth from the restaurant all night checking on the kids, but, when Kate went to do her own checks around ten o’clock, Madeleine was gone from her room, the only clue to her disappearance an open window…

That’s when everything goes a bit mad. I hope it’s not a ‘spoiler’ to say that this excellent and thorough documentary series doesn’t hold the answers to the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Madeleine has never been found, alive or dead, and people today are probably no nearer to finding out what happened to her than they were back in 2007.

What the eight episodes do is just collate all the information available on the case and dole them out to us in fifty-minute bursts. It looks extensively at the night of the disappearance, and the actions of the McCanns and the Portuguese police shortly afterwards, when, apparently, a lot of time was wasted and opportunities to find the child were botched or overlooked at first on the part of the police. There are so many theories about what might have happened to Britain’s best-known little missing person.

Did the McCanns, both doctors and Kate a qualified anaesthetist, accidentally over-sedate the child to make sure she slept while they were out for the evening, and then stage an abduction to cover it up? We see a journalist asking the McCanns if they dosed the child up on Calpol before heading out for the night, to which they reply in the negative.

One fact in favour of this ‘over-sedation’ theory seems to be the fact that Sean and Amelie, the two younger McCanns, themselves slept all the way through the furore that was the immediate aftermath of the discovery of the disappearance. On the other hand, if this theory is correct, where is the body? How was it made away with so successfully that it was never discovered?

Did an opportunistic paedophile take Madeleine, someone who perhaps knew that the kids would be alone that night while the parents dined out? Was she stolen to order by someone who really wanted a child of their own and couldn’t have one in the usual way? If this was the case, I wonder how the new ‘parents’ of a stolen child could ever hope to be happy with their new little daughter, knowing that their happiness was entirely based on another family’s misery.

Was she snatched by an international paedophile ring? Men were apparently seen hanging around the apartment and the little resort town around the time of the disappearance. They may have been something to do with it, or they may not have been. It’s as simple, and as complex, as that.

According to one of the private detectives the McCanns hired further down the road- I mean time-wise, not geographically!- there are ‘dark’ parts of the Internet where paedophiles can go and say what they’re ‘into’ and be supplied with it. That poor detective really looked like he had seen some things that he wished he could un-see, if you know what I mean, but some things, once seen… Well, you know yourself.

We hear from two men who were considered suspects by the police at one time, but no longer: Robert Murat, an English chap living in Portugal, and Sergey Malinka, a young Russian computer expert who had once done some work on a website for Murat.

We see what happens when the McCanns are named as ‘arguidos,’ or suspicious persons, themselves for a while by the Portuguese police, and how upsetting this was for the couple, because, as they said themselves, if the police thought the McCanns had done something to Madeleine, then they weren’t out looking for the ‘real’ culprit.

There were hundreds of sightings of little blonde girl children all over Europe after the disappearance, and those all had to be looked into. We hear from the double-glazing millionaire and his son who felt pity for the McCanns and involved themselves in the case, helping with some of the sightings. I didn’t care for either of these two lads. They seemed a bit, I don’t know, entitled or something, to me. Like, okay, we have money so we’ll conduct this investigation however we want. I didn’t really dig them.

We hear from Justine McGuinness, the McCanns’ first PR person, and Gonzalo Amaral, the detective who first worked on the case in Portugal and ultimately wrote a book about it. We hear from friends of the McCanns, who have nothing but sympathy for the couple, and we see loads of footage of the McCanns talking to the press, Kate clutching Madeleine’s favourite toy, Cuddle Cat, all the while.

We also hear from some people who have the temerity to suggest that other kids go missing too, but not all of them get the money and publicity thrown at them that the Madeleine McCann case was able to avail of. Hundreds of kids world-wide go missing every year. Anyone who actively looks to re-unite them with their parents is a hero in my book.

The weirdest thing of all about this baffling disappearance- well, one of them!- is that Madeleine would be eighteen years old now if she was still alive, which, hopefully, she might be. Maybe someone took her who then brought her up with kindness and care. It’s not outside the bounds of possibility.

For the public though, she’s frozen in time, like a fly in amber, as that cute little blonde four-year-old with the happy smile and that distinctive dark strip on the iris of her left eye. It’s one of the iconic images of the twenty-first century. Let’s hope that, one day, we find out the truth about what happened to her.     

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: