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Review: Deadly Illusions – “Cheesy, trashy, old school, made-for-tv-esque movie”

Kristin Davis and Greer Grammer in Deadly Illusions

I think I was about fifteen minutes in to Deadly Illusions when I asked myself, “How much longer does this go for?”  The fact that the answer was over 90 minutes was disheartening for my Saturday evening.  I would definitely need to binge a couple of episodes of Temptation Island in order to cleanse this one from my palate.  Yes, even that reality show holds more intrigue and suspense for me than this film, which premiered on Netflix in March and makes its way to other digital platforms and VOD this Tuesday, June 1st.

Kristin Davis (Sex and the City) takes a break from recent holiday rom-com fare to play Mary Morrison, the author of a highly successful series of murder mystery novels.  She lives with her husband Tom (Dermot Mulroney) and two children, who are used only as a plot device to introduce the third main character.  She hasn’t written a new book in ages, concentrating instead on being a mother and wife, claiming that writing makes her, “Turn into a different person.”  However, two representatives from her publishing house come to her claiming the business is struggling and requires her help.  They need her to pen a new book in her lucrative series in order to survive.  Despite their struggles, the publishers somehow offer Mary a $2 million advance, and because Tom has recently lost money in a transaction that is never quite explained, she is forced to take the deal.

In order to concentrate all her efforts on writing her new novel, which she sets out to do in its entirety using plain, unlined paper and a pen, Mary aims to hire a nanny from a firm recommended by her best friend, Elaine (ShamelessShanola Hampton).  After interviewing a slew of stereotypical young women for the job, she settles on Grace (Greer Grammer) a bookworm who is absolutely enamoured with the author and has a schoolgirl wardrobe seemingly pulled out of the leftovers from Britney Spears’ ‘Baby One More Time’ video.   But once getting started on her book, Mary’s relationship with the young ingénue begins to change into one of sexual fantasy.  Slowly (oh so slowly) Mary’s reality starts to blur with fiction causing her to unravel with, as you can gather from the title, deadly consequences.

Deadly Illusions is, quite simply, a film of poor choices, both for its characters (sure Mary, taking Grace bra shopping a couple of days into her employment while you suffer from writer’s block seems like a GREAT idea) and its filmmaker, writer/director Anna Elizabeth James.  There is the choice of shooting directly into glaring background lights.  There’s the choice of the sound that fades out dialogue at odd times, or layers it incomprehensibly, and also gives someone a voice suitable for demonic possession despite that not being the case.  There is also the choice of making some scenes that seem to start in the morning inexplicably end in the dark of night.  The dialogue is clunky and full of clichéd foreshadowing.  I can hardly even blame the actors for the largely uninspired work, since there isn’t a lot in this film to encourage complex performances.

There is just not a lot that can redeem Deadly Illusions.  Is it one of those ‘so bad it’s good’ films? Perhaps, 0nce it’s safe to do so, this could be a fun night to get together with your bestie, or even a group of friends, share some wine (you’ll need a lot of it) and watch in dumbfounded amazement that you’ve found this cheesy, trashy, old school, made-for-tv-esque movie.  In that specific scenario, entertainment may be found here.  Otherwise, there are plenty of other ‘thrillers’ that take less of your time that I can recommend.  Heck, even a Kristin Davis Christmas movie, or a couple episodes of a certain reality show, would be a welcome alternative.

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