Deadly Illusions is a sexy, sultry, psychological thriller from the mind of Anna Elizabeth James. Absolutely dripping with the female gaze, and yet unafraid to bare sharp teeth, this is a master class in manipulation, and a mystery begging to be solved.

Mary Morrison (Kristin Davis) has made sure she has set herself up for success. A brilliant author, Mary has lined all her ducks – and books – in a row, giving herself financial freedom and the life of anyone’s dreams. Money’s in the reserves, residual checks keep rolling in, and Mary is completely in control of her creations, estate, and legacy. But when her husband Tom (Dermot Mulroney) blows half the savings on a deal gone wrong, Mary is forced to return to her books once more and quickly turn out another page turner to satisfy hungry fans – and a dwindling bank account. 

Desperate for help with her kids while she puts pen to paper, Mary decides, reluctantly, to hire a nanny. Grace (Greer Grammer) is chaste – almost holy – and the image of “girl next door.” The kids love her, Mary is completely enchanted by her. It almost seems too good to be true. What ensues is the most exciting, riveting, terrifying series of events Mary could possibly imagine – terror that puts her crime novels to shame.

While I can, and will, applaud the performances – particularly of Davis and Grammer, whose chemistry leaps off of the screen – I cannot review a film like this without stating the following… Yet another horror film is exploiting the plight of very real, very tragic mental illness as an excuse for murderous behavior. It’s not new, it’s a tale as old as time – and perhaps that’s why it’s so frustrating to still see movies stoop to this low. Inaccurate portrayals of real mental illnesses can be deadly, and the bumper of this film adds a whole new level to, quite simply, not getting it. Archaic tropes smashed into what should be a fantastic thriller. Yet another great film knocked back a few pegs by a simple, “I wish they hadn’t done THAT.” 

Back to Davis and Grammer – while the entire cast is phenomenal, from top to bottom, these ladies really chew up the scenery. Grammer is every inch the virginal, naive maiden – channeling all of the best 90s ingenues from Audrey Horne to Cecile Caldwell – and yes, I chose those two characters incredibly intentionally. She uses her talents, her looks, and her charm to the absolute end of their abilities – and burns the place down with her fierce mood changes and ferocious lust. Davis plays off of her perfectly – fluctuating effortlessly between loving mother figure, cougar dominatrix, frightened schoolgirl, and badass boss babe. The two women are perfectly matched in every way – allowing the script to flow through them and become better along the way.

Deadly Illusions is by no means flawless – but it is without a doubt fun. Upon researching the film I stumbled over countless negative reviews – which left me scratching my head. Perhaps we aren’t quite ready for everything Deadly Illusions does say successfully – trips over tropes aside, these women are powerful, evenly matched, and absolutely smoldering with sex.


7 out of 10


Deadly Illusions
Runtime:1 Hr. 54 Mins.
Directed By:
Anna Elizabeth James
Written By:Anna Elizabeth James


About the Author: Miranda Riddle

Makeup Artist, Monster Maker, Educator, Producer, Haunt-lover, and all around Halloween freak. When Miranda isn't watching horror films, she's making them happen. When she's not doing either of those things, she's probably dreaming about them. Or baking cookies.