Desires and emotions have a penchant for getting the better of a person in a moment of dubious temptation. The thin lines between reality, imagination, visuals, and nightmares are often blurred, resulting in unsettling hallucinations. If you are treading through your imagination deeply, there is a high probability of wishful thinking, which erases a sense of reality. Well, ‘Deadly Illusions’ is a psychological thriller that cuts across these lines and creates a narrative peppered with erotic elements.
Mary is an author who returns to her profession after a hiatus. Evidently, a writer’s block affects her, and she decides to hire a babysitter for her twins — she wants to focus completely on her book. However, her life is dangerously balanced between reality and fiction, with the predicament accentuated by the babysitter, Grace.
Mary navigates through her desires by reflecting them upon Grace. On the other hand, Grace is not who she seems to be. She has a dark past that meddles with her present. With ambiguous characters, the film concocts a delicious tale that feels like an homage to classic thrillers. Let us immerse ourselves in the details. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Deadly Illusions Plot Synopsis
Mary Morrison is a successful author who has apparently taken a hiatus from her work. The publishers visit her with a lucrative offer for a new project, which Mary rejects outright. However, she is forced to take up the assignment because her husband Tom has lost half their financial reserves through a bad business deal. The author is apprehensive about her return to the job because she has the added responsibility of taking care of her twins. Elaine (Mary’s friend) suggests she hire a full-time babysitter that will help her focus on the work.
Mary interviews multiple prospects but can’t seem to choose any particular person. She sees a silver lining when a young attractive woman visits her for the post. She identifies herself as Grace and strikes a good rapport on the first day itself. Grace gradually integrates herself into the Morrison family. Mary starts writing her story and immerses herself in the narrative. At the same time, she sees her youth in Grace and spends some intimate moments with her. However, we are kept in a loop, which makes us feel like the encounters are Mary’s imagination at work. But Grace’s seductive moves are also extended to Tom, and Elaine notices their camaraderie. She tries to warn Mary, but a misunderstanding ensues between them.
Things take a drastic turn when Mary realizes that Grace isn’t registered to the company that employs babysitters. Mary visits Elaine only to find her stabbed to death with a pair of scissors. The police arrive and gather evidence that points to Mary’s involvement. Shocked at the turn of events, Mary ventures out to Grace’s hometown to gather information about her. The truth is revealed, and she rushes to her home to prevent further damage. However, a dangerous situation awaits Mary, which upends the film’s narrative drastically.
Deadly Illusions Ending: Why Does Mary Visit Grace in the Hospital?
After Mary receives the information that Grace is not enlisted in the company, she ventures out to conduct her own investigation. Mary visits Grace’s aunt, who is reluctant to let her enter. The older woman has a strange way of talking — she uses two disjunctive voices to create different characters in her head. She says that Grace was tortured and kept confined along with her siblings, which apparently had a deep impact upon her. Moreover, Grace adopted an alter-ego of Margaret that would give her company along with her brother.
In the end, her split personality comes out in the open when she tries to seduce Tom and eventually attacks her. Mary intervenes timely and saves the day. The narrative takes a year-long jump, and we see Mary visiting a psychiatric ward where she meets with Grace. Mary preserves Grace’s love for books. The last shot shows Mary leaving the hospital in an attire that is eerily similar to what we see earlier in the film. In essence, we have closure for Grace’s character, but Mary remains a dubious presence.
Mary, despite knowing the truth behind Grace, maintains contact with her. Her liaison with Grace doesn’t end even after the vicious attack on Tom. Mary’s desires are not contained as she still sees the reflection of her youth in Grace. Perhaps, her sexual camaraderie is not over yet as Grace will always remain her muse. Her writer’s block is cleared after meeting Grace, and hence she decides to stay in her vicinity. A wicked inspiration, Grace keeps Mary occupied with afterthoughts that help her stay productive. Since her attire is the same as her visit to Elaine, it can be presumed that Mary doesn’t want her association with Grace to spill out in the open.
Who Killed Elaine?
The narrative crisis is induced with the death of Elaine. She is brutally stabbed in her throat with scissors. The police examine the CCTV footage, and the fingerprints on the murder weapon hint at Mary’s involvement in the crime. Curiously, we see two different flashbacks of the crimes — one of them shows Mary visiting Elaine’s office, and her actions concur with the police’s investigation. While the other shows Grace doing the same, however, she isn’t shown visiting Elaine. In this regard, there can be two possible scenarios.
Firstly, in Mary’s case, she is diagnosed with PTSD and an out-of-body experience. Moreover, the end also hints at her involvement since she wears the same attire to Elaine’s office. A potential motive of Mary’s crime can be that she is probably discontent with Elaine pointing to the affair between Tom and Grace. She seems a good friend of Elaine, but Mary flips out when she is questioned. It is clear that Mary herself is affected by trauma, and Elaine’s meddling in her personal affairs might have triggered her anger. She wants to hide her infirmities, and when threatened to be exposed, she has a fallout. Perhaps Mary commits the deed out of an impulse that helps her complete her story. We can reach this conclusion since Mary dedicates her manuscript to Elaine. Essentially, in helping Mary acquire a muse for the story, Elaine herself becomes one.
Secondly, Grace’s split personality and her vicious outlook point at her misdeed, but had it been so, she would have been confined in a psychiatric ward for prisoners. But that is not to be the case. Grace does follow Elaine and Mary from the beginning, but she takes the chance to infiltrate into Mary’s life. However, Elaine stands to expose Grace’s true intentions since she sees Tom and her together. Maybe it is out of protecting her self-interests, Grace kills Elaine. Still, the concluding scene tilts towards Mary’s involvement in the crime because the similar way of her sneaking in connects the two distinct dots.
The Dangerous Illusions
Mary projects her sexuality onto Grace’s nubile presence. Her unfulfilled desires find a conduit through Grace as we see them engage in intimate moments. Mary sees Tom engaging in the act of sexual submissiveness with Grace — Mary loses her composure and shouts at Tom and Grace. We may perceive the events as Mary’s nightmare, but they are too real to be dismissed. Moreover, Mary tells Elaine that she becomes a different woman while she is engaged in writing. One probable explanation for these sequences can be that Mary is indulging in wishful thinking that takes the form of apparitions.
But her own sexual encounters with Grace are authentic as it doesn’t give a sense of dissonances. On the other hand, the climactic moment when Margaret takes over Grace implies that she perhaps seduces Tom to gain control over his life. Tom apologizes to Mary while severely injured, indicating that he fell for Grace’s temptation. Both the lead characters experience a form of disjunctive personality. The film cleverly masks the truth in probability and leaves a lot for open interpretation. Essentially, it can be read as a conflict between the two personalities who mirror each other through their sexuality and desires.
Read More: Where is Deadly Illusions Filmed?