In addition to awful Christmas movies, Netflix specializes in cheap, knockoff psychological thrillers. Once upon a time, sexualized psychological thrillers – Basic Instinct, Sliver, Fatal Attraction – were hallmarks of the late 80s and early 90s. Too bad Netflix isn’t making those movies. Instead, Netflix thrillers have strayed towards bland and formulaic. Like their Christmas movies, Netflix thrillers have an assembly-line feel to them, intended for quick consumption. And you’re not likely to run out of choices. There’s Twinsanity, Fatal Affair, The Student, and My Teacher, My Obsession. Or perhaps you’d prefer We Belong Together or Bad Match. But don’t worry if you’ve burned through all the titles, Netflix just released its latest insipid thriller, Deadly Illusions.
Mary Morrison is a successful author of lurid thrillers looking to move on to something new. But writer’s block and a publisher that wants more of the same stand in her way. And when her husband loses money on stocks, Mary’s has no choice but to take a handsome $2 million advance to continue her series. To ease some of the burden at home, Mary hires a young, and attractive nanny named Grace. But as her writer’s block continues Mary’s growing attraction to Grace blurs with her own dreams and fantasies. Soon Mary doesn’t know if she should be afraid of Grace … or herself.
Deadly Illusions Offers Netflix Fans Two Bad Movies for the Price of One
At least Netflix did something a little different with their latest psychological thriller. That’s right, Deadly Illusions is actually two bad movies wrapped into one. Writer and director Anna Elizabeth James delivers a murder mystery thriller with no murder until almost three-quarters of the way into the move. Moreover, she attempts a Hitchcockian, mind-bending story that makes no sense and is in no way ‘mind-bending’. In fact, it’s difficult to tell what James intended for Deadly Illusions. On one hand, Deadly Illusions plays out like a redux The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. Is the seemingly perfect Grace hiding something? Duh, of course. Yet James tries to play clever by hinting that Mary sometimes ‘loses herself’ while writing. Unfortunately, Deadly Illusions does a poor job with both stories. As a result, it’s more confusing and illogical than suspenseful and unpredictable.
Most of the ideas in Deadly Illusions are poorly developed, resulting in a ‘dog’s breakfast of a movie’.
By the time James delivers her groanworthy twist, the only uncertainty is whether you’re confused, bored, or both. Very little in Deadly Illusions makes sense. Does the husband have an affair with Grace? Or is this just Mary’s imagination running wild? Early in the movie Mary remarks that she’s a “different person when she writes”. Yet it’s an idea that Deadly Illusions poorly develops. Most of the ideas in Deadly Illusions are poorly developed, resulting in a ‘dog’s breakfast of a movie’. And just like any poor man’s thriller, James leans on expository dialogue and a couple of flashbacks that Mary couldn’t possibly have had since she wasn’t present.
Deadly Illusions Offers a Suspense-Free ‘Thriller’ For the Hallmark Crowd
If Deadly Illusions boasted some suspense or a few cheap thrills, it might compensate for its nonsensical story. As compared to some of the other thrillers mentioned above, Deadly Illusions is a little more sexually provocative. No, it doesn’t recall some of the more steamy 80s and 90s thrillers. Still it’s a notch above the pretty tame Fatal Affair or We Belong Together. In terms of suspense, James doesn’t demonstrate much aptitude for staging action or thrills. Case in point, the climax feels flat and … anti-climatic. All of these problems are exacerbated by the movie’s cheap exploitation of mental illness and a laughable reveal.
No, it doesn’t recall some of the more steamy 80s and 90s thrillers. Still it’s a notch above the pretty tame Fatal Affair or We Belong Together.
Though you might be tempted to feel sorry for poor Kristin Davis, her name pops up in the credits as one of the producers. So she has no one to blame but herself. Of course, Netflix fans have apparently loved Deadly Illusions, so Davis may not have to pray for a Sex and the City reunion. As for Dermot Mulroney, he may not have to worry about being in this movie. He’s a ‘barely there’ presence that’s more or less here to fill in some plot points. As Grace, Greer Grammer turns in a pretty strained performance that comes unglued when the movie demands more of her.
Deadly Illusions Marks Another Dud of a Thriller For Netflix
There’s something to be said for consistency. And Netflix is nothing if not consistent with the quality of their psychological thrillers. Whether Deadly Illusions represents an improvement over some of their past titles is besides the point. Maybe Deadly Illusions packs a bit more eccentric bad moments to stand out. Regardless it’s still a bad movie. With a story as mixed up as its characters and a lack of any suspense, Deadly Illusions is an absolute slog of a movie to sit through for nearly two hours. And that may be the movie’s biggest sin. Whomever decided that this movie justified two hours should be forced to sit through it themselves.