This story contains spoilers for erotic thriller Deadly Illusions, now streaming on Netflix.
More than a year in quarantine has led to some very interesting Netflix queues — remember the internet's obsession with Tiger King? — but some of our pandemic viewing choices are definitely skewing a bit...odd these days. Look no further than the titles of the ever-changing Netflix Top 10, in which a particularly bizarre project called Deadly Illusions has been sitting in the top spots since its release.
Deadly Illusions hit Netflix last week and has since become one of the streamers hottest offerings. The story, written and directed by Anna Elizabeth James, is described as an erotic thriller, but let's just say it's less sexy than it is a psychological slasher film. In the movie, successful author, wife, and mother Mary Morrison (Kristen Davis) finds herself in a bind when she's financially forced to pen another novel for her publishing company. Writing is Mary's passion, but since becoming a mother, it hasn't exactly been easy to set time aside to churn out an entire book. At the suggestion of her husband Tom (Dermot Mulroney), Mary seeks out a full-time nanny from a reputable company to help manage her household while she's writing.
Enter Grace Taylor (Greer Grammar), a young woman with a positive outlook and a love for books who clicks with Mary easily on their first meeting. In fact, their chemistry is explosive; there's a strong sexual tension between the women that does not go unnoticed by Mary. She decides to use the confusing feelings as fuel for her novel, writing about her loaded interactions with Grace in her draft. The two have close encounters at a lingerie store, during a bike ride, while sharing one of Mary's expensive cigars, and even in the chef's kitchen of the Morrison family home. It's all very inappropriate and possibly imagined — it's kind of difficult to tell because this is right where takes a weird (and low-key predictable) turn.
Unbeknownst to Mary, Grace is also connecting with Tom in a similar way, enticing him with those same baby blues. We also find out that the young woman isn't actually a vetted hire from the nanny company Mary sought out; Grace is actually a dangerous, emotionally unstable young woman who appears to be dealing with either dissociative identity disorder or demon possession — Deadly Illusions doesn't do a great job of distinguishing the two, which is both problematic and lazy storytelling.
What follows this reveal is Grace's sudden transformation into an unhinged murderer with no clear motive. She kills Mary's best friend and brutally attacks Tom before being apprehended by the authorities. At the very end of the film, Mary visits Grace at a facility, and one of the women ends up leaving in a disguise, but it's impossible to tell who it is.
Not shockingly, Netflix subscribers hate this movie and are also obsessed with it at the same time.
Many modern erotic thrillers don't make much sense, and that's perfectly fine; with popular films like 365 DNI and Behind Her Eyes, we may have tuned in for the intrigue but truly stayed for the sex. Deadly Illusions doesn't deliver on either of those things. The sex scenes aren't all that sexy, the characters are half-baked, and the general plot is pretty all over the place. Yet here we are, making it one of Netflix's most popular titles simply because we love mess. Quarantine, am I right?
Deadly Illusions is now available for streaming on Netflix.