Deadly Illusions is an unfortunately clunky new Netflix thriller, about a bestselling novelist who hires an innocent young Nanny to watch over her twins whilst she works on her new novel. However, as the novelist delves deeper into her work, the line between reality and fiction becomes blurry. Is the Nanny potentially not all that she seems to be, or are these just the illusions of a tired and immersed writer?
Written by Becca Johnson
Deadly Illusions undeniably has the makings of an effective thriller. As main character Mary (Kristin Davis) falls deeper and deeper into her writing, the more unreliable her perspective becomes. This leaves the audience asking many questions about who to trust, who is dangerous and whether it's all just in Mary's head. The script drip feeds hints and clues along the way, shifting our opinions and making us question what we are seeing. The performances are also pretty believable, Kristin Davis playing the gradually unhinged author with ease, and Greer Grammar offering some talent as the sugar-sweet, almost too nice Nanny.
Unfortunately, Deadly Illusions becomes a convoluted mess the further into the run-time we go. What lets the movie down is how many loose ends there are, and scenes that have little to no explanation. It wants us to believe that the weird happenings somehow relate to the novel that Mary is writing, yet the script never gives the audience any information about said novel. Furthermore, Grace the Nanny is a complete mystery to the audience, and remains that way even after multiple big reveals. She is initially hired after showing her flair for books, a subject close to her employers heart, but we do not even learn her age let alone any other worthwhile information.
The script is unfortunately very poorly written, full of cringe-worthy tropes that have been explored multiple times. The evil babysitter theme has become tired by now, and there are definitely better examples of this idea. The story meanders, offering up one too many scenes of novelist Mary hand-writing her new book, smoking cigars and canoodling with Grace in different locations, then becoming confused as to whether the sapphic interactions were merely a figment of her imagination and desires. The dialogue is exceptionally predictable and weak, particularly in the third act when things take a darker turn.
The meandering and lack of information would be forgivable if the audience were offered pay-off, however this is not the case. The script still leaves unanswered questions, a foreseeable and expected finale that fails to become thrilling enough, and an overall sense of dissatisfaction. We learn elements of Grace's past yet it never quite feels enough to warrant the mystery of the first two acts, and a deep dive into this could've been the movies silver lining. Due to how clunky and messy the third act is, the first two end up becoming more favourable as they offer a sense of mystery and interest to know what will happen; the finale should've been the most rewarding portion.
Deadly Illusions is a perfect example of a good idea that is poorly executed. The movie offers decent performances and a mystery element that makes the over-stretched runtime as engaging as it can be, yet the predictable and tired outcome will leave you wondering whether it was really worth the watch.