Deadly Illusions is still all the rage on Netflix, and we get it. We do, really. It’s a movie that has to be seen to be believed, a schlockfest so bad that it’s almost… Well, it’s still bad. And yet! Maybe that’s okay. Mild, mild spoilers ahead.
Let’s set this up, just in case you’ve not seen Deadly Illusions yet. Bestselling author Mary Morrison (Kristin Davis) feels pressured by everyone around her, including her publisher and her husband (Dermot Mulroney as Tom), to write a new entry in an ongoing book series. Everyone needs the major money her novels generate, but terrible things seem to happen each time she’s done so, thus her reluctance to put pen to paper. And we mean pen to paper; she writes in longhand… on unlined paper! Oh, and when she’s in author mode, Mary smokes cigars.
Anyway, Mary finally agrees to write a new book, so the Morrisons seeks to hire a nanny. Cue the interview montage! They both like the gorgeous, modestly dressed, and perky Grace (Greer Grammer), who’ll care for their kids while Mary scribbles away in their perfect house. Mary then seems to crush on Grace, or is it the other way around? Among the WTF-iest of too many WTF moments to count, Mary takes Grace bra shopping. Why? And why does Mary join her new, young friend in the changing room? Soon enough, someone dies. Everyone behaves bizarrely. Dark secrets are revealed. Mary smokes more cigars. Is any of it real? Is Grace a figment of Mary’s imagination? Is this one of Mary’s books coming to life? And then there’s the ending. O. M. G.
Kristin Davis is a warm, natural presence in the right role. Mary is the wrong role, perhaps the wrong-est ever, but infinity points to Davis for her unflinching commitment. Why is poor Dermot Mulroney in this thing? A master of the romantic comedy, you’ll swear you can catch him checking his iPhone to see if the paycheck has cleared. Shanola Hampton plays the even more thankless role of Mary’s best friend, Elaine, who happens to be black. Is it a spoiler to reveal that it’s Elaine who ends up dead? Yeah, we didn’t think so. And that’s Kelsey Grammer’s daughter, Greer, as the bonkers babysitter. After years of playing ditzy characters in Awkward and other shows and movies, Grammer sinks her teeth into the role of Grace, and she’s riveting — all blue-eyed innocence careening off the rails. You’ll want to see what she does next. We do.
Again, Deadly Illusions is bad, but this is bad at its best: silly psychosexual thriller plot, overacted, with ridiculous music, crazy camera angles, absurd dialogue, bits of nudity, both lesbian love and father-of-the-house/babysitter soft-core naughtiness, not to mention plenty of moaning, screaming, whispering, writhing, amped-up sound effects, bike riding, wine guzzling, dancing, cackling laughter, bloodletting, nightmarish dream sequences, and hair-pulling, plus a truly demented and disturbing family dinner sequence, and a slew of sly red herrings. You’ll think your eyes and ears are deceiving you, but, if you’re honest, it’s engrossing and… sexy. And writer-director Anna Elizabeth James may have done it all on purpose. Netflix dropped the movie on March 18 and here we are, continuing to dissect it!
Yes, the temptation hits at times to just shut off Deadly Illusions, but when you’ve sat in traffic for 90 minutes, you won’t be denied your moment to see the car wreck for yourself. And that ending, love it or hate it, is a shocker and worth the wait.
Deadly Illusions is streaming now now on Netflix.