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As for today’s post, boy, do I have a doozy of a review to share with you. It will have spoilers, mainly because I do not, in any way, think it is worth a watch. However, if you do plan on watching Deadly Illusions and don’t want it spoiled, maybe save this review for after!
Deadly Illusions is a 2021 American thriller drama film on Netflix, which was written and directed by Anna Elizabeth James. It stars Kristin Davis, Dermot Mulroney, Greer Grammer, and Shanola Hampton.
In the movie, a retired best-selling author, Mary (Davis), is asked by her publisher to produce one more book. At first, she refuses because, she claims, she “becomes a different person” when she writes. However, her husband (Mulroney) then reveals he made a bad business deal and they desperately need the money. Worried about her children, Mary hires a nanny named Grace (Grammer) (anyone who knows anything, knows that you don’t confirm someone’s identity with a yes/no question but with an open ended one).
However, Grace isn’t who she says she is and Mary struggles with her own strange fantasies while trying to figure out exactly who Grace is. The movie attempts to blur the lines between reality and delusion, making the viewer question which scenes were real and which weren’t.
Spoilers ahoy! It’s your last chance to turn back!
Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
One thing that struck me right away was the way Mary behaved. I don’t know if it was a deliberate choice or just… poor acting, but Mary seems like an alien trying to act the way it thinks a human should act. It was really perplexing and oftentimes, I was pulled out of the movie by some strange interaction between Mary and someone else.
Also, her overall story arc was nuts. Here come the spoilers: her husband makes a bad business decision which forces her to write a book that she doesn’t want to write. Then it is strongly implied he cheats on her with the nanny. Guess what? She stays with him and they are still so very in love. In fact, there seemed to be no consequences or reaction from Mary at all about this infidelity. It’s just water under the bridge, I guess?
The movie tries to set it up that Mary is losing it — having sexual fantasies about Grace that are so strong, she doesn’t know if they happened or not, plus a few other incidents — and she is blamed for the death of her friend because there is security footage of a woman in sunglasses and a face-obscuring scarf coming out of the building. It’s supposed to be a surprise that it’s actually Grace, dressed up as Mary, except it’s not really subtle.
It’s revealed near the end that Grace has split personalities due to her abusive childhood and she tries to kill the husband. Mary stops her, Grace ends up in a psychiatric ward, where Mary visits her and they are such best friends now. The movie tries to pull off one more cheesy “twist” by showing a woman leave the hospital dressed in the very same way as the woman who left the crime scene. Was it Mary leaving or Grace escaping? Should you care? No.
The entire movie was a weak attempt at a thriller, the characters were so one-sided, it was like a look into an uncanny valley village, and the climax of the movie felt rushed and silly. Don’t waste your time on this one, folks.
x P.L. McMillan
p.s. Netflix, I expect better from you.