Here Are All the Questions We Have After Watching Deadly Illusions, the No. 1 Movie on Netflix
Is anyone else as confused as we are?
Deadly Illusions — a new thriller starring Kristin Davis, Greer Grammer, Shanola Hampton and Dermot Mulroney — is the latest movie to trend at number one on Netflix, but after watching, we've ended up with more questions than answers.
In the thriller, Sex and the City alumna Davis plays bestselling author Mary Morrison, who has to write another book in her very popular mystery series after her husband, Tom (Mulroney) makes a bad business decision. If you're wondering what kind of business decision, don't. It's just one of the many questions that goes unanswered in this campy, over-the-top, two-hour thriller. If you haven't seen it yet, I really suggest you watch.
At first glance, the movie's premise seems straightforward enough: A working mom who ominously admits she "turns into a different person" when she writes, hires a nanny named Grace (played by Grammer) so that she can get some work done. That decision turns out to be a bad one. Think Fatal Attraction meets Obsessed meets The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.
If you're thinking, "Wow, that feels like a lot," it's because it is — not only does the plot get murky, but eventually mental health issues become a factor, though they are never addressed explicitly or are addressed in a diluted, problematic way, leaving the audience to guess at what is going on.
It's this writer's understanding that Grace has some sort of mental illness following the trauma she experienced as a child at the hand of her parents. We find out nearly at the end of the movie that, though Mary is looking increasingly unstable, it is actually Grace who is a murderous villain ... we think? There are no answers in this movie. Only questions.
I've compiled just a smattering of mine below:
What is the timeline?
This one is the one that stumped me as I watched. Initially, the audience is led to believe that Mary is writing a whole novel and has only hired her babysitter for one week. I'm not exaggerating, she tells her best friend Elaine (Shanola Hampton), "I only have her for the week." But then suddenly she is taking her babysitter bra shopping after knowing her for what? Two days? And then, a day later, Mary is hugging Grace and telling her that she loves her and that their family will never leave her. At this point, I was shouting at my TV, "HOW LONG HAS SHE BEEN IN THIS HOUSE?"
There is a three-week jump forward in time about an hour into the movie that they make sure the audience doesn't miss by informing us via subtitle, but up until that point and after it, there is no indicator of a timeline. I would say that this is purposeful, but I genuinely do not think it is.
Why is Mary writing her novel by hand?
When Mary says she is "writing her novel," she means it very literally. She grabs a stack of printer paper and a fountain pen and gets cracking.
Some follow-up questions we have about the writing of the novel include:
- Has she written all eight books in this series this way?
- Is it really only going to take one week to write? Especially accounting for penmanship?!
- What poor intern had to transcribe her hand-written book — which happens across multiple notebooks and random sheets of paper — and turn it into something usable?
- Why does Mary write and then storyboard her whole story and then write some more? I am pretty sure this is not the way you write a novel.
And why is Mary always smoking cigars?
Not that she isn't allowed to smoke cigars. I mean, it's not the healthiest habit, you do you, Mary. I just want to know: WHY?
What is the season?
One minute there is a cozy fire burning and the next Mary is lounging topless by the pool. Oh, and while she is doing said lounging, totally comfortable with whatever temperature it is, nary a goosebump in sight, Grace is wearing a full sweater. But then there are scenes where they are swimming! Swimming! Even though there are no leaves on the trees and turtlenecks are being worn? Someone explain it!
If the hiring agency that Mary is using to find a sitter is supposed to be so great, why are they hiring nannies that say things like:
They make this huge deal out of the nannies all being amazing and then when they show up they are all ... awful? How are these women keeping their jobs!?
And how, after weeks (months? who knows?) of Grace being in her house, does this great agency not inform Mary that they didn't cash her checks because they don't have a sitter named Grace?
This doesn't feel like something I would pay thousands for. It feels like something I would report to the Better Business Bureau.
At what point is the audience supposed to realize that Grace is a dangerous murderer?
For most of the movie, Grace is very obviously falling for/seducing Mary, but there doesn't seem to be anything super dangerous going on. Then, Grace orders a slice of quiche and a Bloody Mary and that is supposed to be enough to convince us that she is a totally changed woman? Enough so that Tom says, "I've never seen. this side of you before." What side?! The side that enjoys brunch?!
Did Grace poison the chili and was Mary's husband in on it?
Is the point of drugging Mary to sleep with Tom? And if so, did Tom know that Grace was going to drug Mary? And my usual follow-up question: WHY?
Why did Tom throw this Target throw blanket over his passed-out wife and not put her under the gorgeous down comforter on their bed?
Nothing against throw blankets, I love them! But ... come on.
AND AGAIN WHAT IS THE TIMELINE.
One minute, Mary is passed out after eating a single bite of chili, the next she is watching her husband and nanny get it on in the kitchen, and the next she is awake and being called for dinner? Did this all happen in the span of an hour? Where were the children!?
When did Tom find the time to get a Swiss Army Knife from an innocuous tire slash tested for fingerprints when he just found out moments earlier that his wife is a suspected murderer?
Listen, at this point in the movie I've suspended my disbelief for a lot, but when Mulroney's character brings up fingerprints on a Swiss Army Knife in their garage when he supposedly just found out that Mary is suspected in the murder of Elaine, I realized I would never understand this movie. Why did he get a random knife tested for fingerprints? How long is the turnaround for forensic testing these days? Will I ever feel sane or whole again?
Speaking of Elaine's murder, if Tom woke up and noticed his wife was gone for three hours in the middle of the night, why didn't he look for her?
Though we'll never really know if it was Mary or Grace who killed Elaine with scissors to the neck (add it to the list of things we will never know), I can't help but wonder why — if Tom knew that his wife left the house for three hours in the middle of the night — he didn't call, text, or even go look for her! What did he do? Just sit in bed and twiddle his thumbs!? Go back to sleep? And why then, when she returned wasn't he like, "Hey, where have you been? I noticed you'd been gone and was worried because I am your husband and that is normal."
What is Grace's motivation the entire movie?
Toward the end of the movie, Grace reveals that she has another personality named Margaret (or at least that is what we take from the under-explained final scenes). The movie flashes through scenes of Grace plotting to become Mary's nanny after overhearing that she is in the market for one at the gym where she works. She is determined from the outset to be part of Mary's life. But why!?
Then, we see her grab a knife and tell a naked Tom (before slashing him with it), "One thing you should know about me, Tom, is I'm completely insane, and I always get what I want."
What do you want, Grace? We literally do not know?
There's no explanation for why she picks the Morrison family: what motivates her to target them and ruin their lives? No explanation for why she becomes obsessed with Mary or why she kills Elaine and tries to frame Mary for it. No follow-up about what was truly happening and what was a ... deadly illusion. Sorry, I had to. Also, it's 2021, so it feels exploitative to chalk her behavior up to "insanity" without any nuance.
Why did Mary try to hide in the fridge while running from her murderous nanny?
Sure, it looks spacious, but, why?
Who is leaving the hospital and where is the security?
At the end of the movie, all seems to be well. We watch scenes of Mary and her family, living their lives like nothing ever happened, and then Mary goes to visit Grace at an institution — the cheating and drugging and attempted murdering all water under the bridge — and the pair play cards. That ending would have been enough, in my opinion.
But then, we see a woman leave in the same outfit Grace wore when trying to frame Mary for Elaine's murder ... and the credits roll. Who is it? Why not show us either way? I'd be happy with one single answer! I'd even be able to know peace if it turned out to be one of Mary's twins on the other's shoulders in a trench coat.
As many questions as I still have about this film, I am still recommending that everyone watch it, if only so I can have people to talk about it with.