Erotic thriller about dangerous nanny; violence, sex.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Deadly Illusions is a violent and sexually charged thriller starring Kristin Davis (Sex and the City) and Greer Grammer, daughter of Kelsey. An attractive and mysterious young babysitter ingratiates herself into an idyllic wealthy family, bringing sexual games and violence into a home with two small kids. People are slashed and stabbed, with plenty of blood. Adults drink alcohol and smoke cigars. A main character starts a sexual relationship with a younger, less powerful employee. Two women have sexual encounters. A blindfolded man caters to a clothed woman's sexual demands. A woman dresses as a dominatrix. A man's behind is shown. A brief side view of a woman's breast is seen. Two women swim nude together flirtatiously. Mental illness is unfavorably portrayed. Language includes "f--k," "c--t," "s--t," "ass," "bitch," "hell," and "damn."
Worst movie I've seen in a while.
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What's the Story?
In DEADLY ILLUSIONS, Mary (Kristin Davis) has it all. She's the author of a popular book series. She has a walk-in closet the size of New Jersey, a doting husband, Tom (Dermot Mulroney), and two adorable small kids. With the writing career behind her, she's settled into a life of blissful domesticity. When her publisher offers her the extraordinary sum of $2 million upfront to write another novel, her first instinct is to turn it down, but she's suddenly faced with money troubles and, despite her warning that she turns into a different person when she writes her dark books, she says yes. Now she'll need a nanny. Thinking she's hiring a vetted candidate from a prestigious employment agency, after a quick interview, and without calling the agency to confirm, Mary takes on Grace (Greer Grammer), the braided, bobby socks-wearing, blond-haired young woman who loves to read. Mary starts spending lots of girl time with Grace. They picnic in a romantic setting. They drink together and go on picturesque bike rides, and swim nude together at Mary's urging. Grace, acknowledging the signals, responds enthusiastically, and an affair blossoms. It's not until Mary's best friend (Shanola Hampton) turns up dead, with scissors in her throat -- just as Mary has described a murder in her manuscript -- that Mary thinks it might be time to actually vet her nanny, and what she finds out isn't good news. Can she save her family from Grace?
Is It Any Good?
This is a predictable movie that feels like so many others. Movies about the attractive au pair/assistant/secretary/nanny who seduces the family's dad, or mom, or kids are neither new nor unusual. Deadly Illusions is just one more mediocre addition to that cinematic heap, little more than a series of screenwriting clichés lined up one after another. The plotting is so clunky and heavy-handed that there really can be no spoiling of this mess. Grace is predictably an agent of evil and mayhem. The choice to use what may or may not be flashbacks to misleadingly suggest that any number of characters may or may not have committed certain acts is a weak conceit that both dilutes moments of suspense and casts doubt on clues that viewers may be relying on to decipher the mysteries.
But the real problem here is that it's impossible to sympathize with Mary, an overprivileged writer, wife, and mom who sexually initiates and encourages Grace, then cuts off the affair. What could be more irresponsible? Further, Kristin Davis lacks the command and spark required to render Mary, the main character with the most screen time, sufficiently charismatic to carry a movie. We need to root for Mary and, given that her behavior as the employer of a younger, less powerful nanny is irresponsible and sexually predatory, the movie is absurdly imbalanced. Grace is set up as the evildoer, but Mary is a sexual predator who keeps making bad decisions about her employee. If the pair worked in an office, creepy Mary would be looking at reprimands and a severance package. In the end, we have actual mental illness and evil in the house versus the casual and thoughtless selfishness of the overprivileged. It's hard to know where to look.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about some of the early signs that there was something off about Grace. What could the parents have done differently?
How did the movie present mental illness? Was it a fair representation? Why, or why not?
Mary's actions encouraged a sexual relationship with a younger, less powerful person in her employ. Do you think she behaved improperly? Why, or why not?
What are some of the clichés of the thriller and horror genres that this movie uses early on to let us know that it will go from simple family drama to horror?
- On DVD or streaming: March 18, 2021
- Cast: Kristin Davis, Greer Grammer, Dermot Mulroney, Shanola Hampton
- Director: Anna Elizabeth James
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 114 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: Some bloody violence, sexual content/nudity
- Last updated: February 19, 2023
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