If you’re looking for a thought-provoking psychological thriller to dive into this weekend and become completely immersed, I will be firm in saying that Deadly Illusions is not the movie for you. If you are, on the other hand, in the mood for a silly story with attractive leads and some suspense, you might want to consider checking it out.
Starring Sex and the City alum Kristin Davis, the new Netflix movie follows the life of a successful author named Mary whose life gets turned upside down after she hires a new nanny for her kids. In need of a quick payday after her husband Tom (Dermot Mulroney) gets himself into financial trouble, Mary is all but forced to churn out a new book in her series. Caregiver Grace (Greer Grammer) is now part of the family in more ways than one, and the story does a decent job at creating intrigue in her relationship with Mary. Though predictable, it’s fun watching the lines quickly blurring between the two women as they become close friends and then something more than that.
And just as Grace and Mary begin having a romantic relationship, the film takes a slightly interesting turn. The way Deadly Illusions presents its sexual scenes makes you question whether or not they’re actually happening, with the movie trying to mirror what Mary is facing through the audience. At least, I think the stylistic choices were purposefully chosen to do that. Because Mary is so unclear of what’s actually going on, so is the audience, quickly turning the protagonist into an unreliable narrator. Are Mary and Grace anything more than platonic, and could Grace be hooking up with Tom? The viewer’s sense of reality is led astray a few times, and though it’s not too complex of a narrative, it’s entertaining.
Mary is both envious of and attracted to Grace, and she seamlessly goes back and forth between yearning to be young again and wanting to get intimate. She feels neglected by Tom, who although often pursues her for sex, doesn’t always put her desires first. Mary feels forced into writing this new book, and she claims multiple times throughout the movie that writing turns her into a different person. Foreshadowing? I think so.
Deadly Illusions starts to get boring towards the second act after the viewer is spoon-fed the main plot points and the pacing becomes stagnant. It isn’t until suddenly someone is killed that things begin picking up and go full speed to the conclusion. After calling the caregiver facility to ask about a check, Mary discovers that Grace was never part of the agency. Mary heads off to inform her best friend Elaine (Shanola Hampton), only to find her murdered with a pair of scissors to the neck. Things start clicking for Mary, retracing her moments with Grace and realizing she’s not to be trusted.
As it turns out, Grace is very dangerous, which isn’t shocking in the slightest, of course. It’s quickly explained that she was actually working at the gym Mary goes to when she overheard a conversation about needing a nanny. After being rejected by the agency, Grace had decided to take matters into her own hands and show up at Mary’s, pretending to be a professional. As the viewer gets this reveal, Mary is desperately calling Tom to warn him. Predictably, it’s too late.
Although Tom is not murdered in the end, he is badly wounded by Grace. In a whirlwind of events, we see that Grace is being possessed with some type of second personality, someone she calls Margaret. It’s not fully fleshed out, but it seems Grace is dealing with inner demons which stem from her troubled childhood. While this is going on, Mary meets with Grace’s aunt in search of answers, who tells Mary that Grace and her siblings had been seriously abused as kids for years.
A whole lot of plot dump happens in the third act, which is expected considering not much happens in the movie up until then. But wrapping up all the loose ends is not how this story ends.
Deadly Illusions ending explained
Mary ends up getting home in the nick of time, fighting Grace off Tom and ultimately hitting Grace over the head with a vase and knocking her out. Then, we get a one-year time jump. Slightly complicating the predictable story we’ve been following, we see that Mary and Grace are still on good terms. Tom is fortunately alive, and Mary has continued writing, this time on a book dedicated to her late friend Elaine.
Mary goes to what appears to be a psychiatric hospital where Grace is staying. They’re getting along just fine, making it seem that Grace had been admitted there after everything went down. The twist, however, comes when someone is seen leaving the facility. Presumably a woman, the figure walks out wearing a scarf over their head while also wearing sunglasses. Viewers will remember this look from the security camera footage after Elaine was murdered. Police had shown Mary a clip of a person in the same outfit walking out of the building where Elaine worked soon after she was killed. At the time, Mary stated that it could have been anybody.
With Deadly Illusions ending on that note, it’s meant to subvert what the viewer thought had happened. Was it actually Mary who killed Elaine, or was Mary simply allowing Grace to walk free from the hospital? That’s up for the audience’s interpretation.
Is Deadly Illusions good?
While I appreciate the amusing conclusion, Deadly Illusions is still predictable and silly. However, it’s certainly an easy watch, and as a fan of Kristin Davis, I enjoyed watching her on my screen. The chemistry between Mary and Grace is believable, and there’s really nothing wrong with the acting. If the second act wasn’t so drawn out and empty, I probably would have been more into the movie while I was watching.
I wouldn’t classify Deadly Illusions as a must-watch, but if you’ve got nothing else to casually throw on this weekend, it wouldn’t be the worst option.