Lord of Illusions
lord of illusions | clive barker | scott bakula | kevin j. o'connor | j. trevor edmond | based on | short story | mystery | thriller | united states | cult | daniel von bargen | joseph latimore | famke janssen | sheila tousey | susan traylor | ashley tesoro
Film: Lord of Illusions
Director: Clive Barker
Writer: Clive Barker
Starring: Scott Bakula, Kevin J. O’Connor and J. Trevor Edmond
This was a film that I actually used to watch quite a bit when growing up, as it always seemed to be on the movie channels. I’m not sure I ever watched it all the way through though. Something else was that I loved to write stories growing up and I remember using the title of this film for one, even though it didn’t make sense to the story I wrote. The synopsis here is a during a routine case, private investigator Harry D’Amour (Scott Bakula) stumbles over members of a fanatic cult, who are waiting for the resurrection of their leader Nix (Daniel von Bargen).
We start this film with some quotes about magic. We learn there are illusions and some that can do real magic that is quite dark. It is then we are with a cult of people living out in the desert. One of them, Butterfield (J. Trevor Edmond) notices some vehicles heading their way. Something to point out is that he has two different colored eyes. This cult is run by Nix and he’s kidnapped a young girl, Dorothea (Ashley Tesoro). He is telling them he’s going to ascend and be known as The Puritan. The vehicles heading their way are led by Philip Swann (Kevin J. O’Connor). They’re trying to save Dorothea and to stop Nix. We see a bit of his power before Dorothea shoots him. He is then binded with a magical mask and buried in the desert.
The film then shifts 13 years into the future. We meet Harry who is a struggling PI. He has been made famous by a case that he was working where he saved a possessed boy. The tabloids are having a field day with it. He is offered a job that will take him from New York to Los Angeles, to hopefully let all of this blow over.
The case he is working though leads him to Caspar Quaid (Joseph Latimore). He is being murdered by Butterfield (now played by Barry Del Sherman) and Ray Miller (Jordan Marder). They are trying to get information of where Nix is, but Harry gets involved. He ends up throwing Ray out of the window and Butterfield escapes. Before Quaid dies, he talks about Swann.
This leads him to meet Dorothea (now Famke Janssen). She is married to Swann and she wants to know why Quaid was murdered. Valentin (Joel Swetow) doesn’t like the idea of Harry hanging out. Dorothea invites Harry to the last show of her husband, Swann.
It doesn’t go as planned. Harry starts to look into his death and leads him to the cult of Nix. His followers are trying to resurrect him and there is much more to this story that he realizes. The question becomes if magic is real and what is Harry getting himself into.
Now I have to say, this film does have some really good aspects to it, with the first being this cult. Movies with cults in them, you can usually get me on board. I really like the idea of Nix and his abilities. We learn in the beginning that he magic we see on television is just illusions. They are slight of hand and things to this effect. There are much darker things out there and that is the things that Nix can do.
This film is a bit convoluted though as well. I do know this was one of the films that caused writer/director Clive Barker to get out of making movies. Studio interference really does to bog this down. Personally, even though I do love investigation in films, which we get here. I would have liked a bit more about the cult. We get it in the beginning and in the end, but that’s really about it. There is a lot of Harry just trying to get to the bottom of things and uncovering clues.
Going from this cult, I do think that what Nix wants to do is a bit too much comic book villain for me. I like that he trained Swann and that he is the only worthy follower that he has. The problem I run into is what he ultimately wants to do. It just seemed a bit too clichéd for me if I’m perfectly honest.
I’ve already touched on this a bit, but the pacing of the film does have some issues. There is a bit too much investigation and not really a lot happening. I was a bit bored at times during this one, even though I like the set up and I thought the ending has some good aspects to it. How they defeat the villain was a bit rushed to me as well. I still thought it had some good elements though for sure.
As for the acting of the film, it is really hit or miss for me if I’m honest. Bakula didn’t fit the film for me. I did like his arrogance, but he comes off too much CSI and cheesy. I feel like he was selected for his looks and his performance didn’t do a whole lot. Bargen I thought was really good though. The problem there is just a lack of screen time. O’Connor was solid in his role. I also really liked Sherman and Janssen. She is also looking amazing in this film. The rest of the cast I’d say was fine in rounding out the film for what was needed.
Something else that was hit or miss is the effects. When they went practical, they looked really good. There is some good blood. The look of Nix I thought was great. The mask that they put on him was as well. The issue comes from some of the CGI. Whenever there was fire, it didn’t look good. It is hard to fault the film too much, as that seems to be a problem still if I’m honest. There were some other things that just don’t hold up with these effects as well. The film though was shot really well.
Now with that said, I did enjoy this film, but there are definitely some flaws with it. I really like some aspects of the story. A private investigator, who believes in the supernatural, trying to get to the bottom of what is going on here, I liked the cult aspect of the film and that there really is magic. There were some issues for me with the pacing and the acting was really hit or miss. That can also be said for the effects, where the practical were good and the CGI not so much. The soundtrack of the film really didn’t stand out to me, but it also didn’t hurt the film either. Definitely fit for what was needed. Now with that said though, I would only recommend this one if you’re a fan of Barker. This is still an interesting film, but it just is a bit problematic. I’d say overall this film is just slightly above average for me.
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10