LORD of ILLUSIONS: Lordy what a mess! But in a good way, a review with ***spoilers***
Directed and written by Clive Barker, Lord of Illusions begins as many horror films do with the camera showing us all the creepy things that we know spell “time to go someplace else.” We’re in the desert and looking at an abandoned one story building. There’s an array of small animal bones, skulls, old broken dolls, dead snakes, etc.
A group of people drives up and approaches the building commando-style.
Inside, there’s a party going on and it’s obvious these gun-toters aren’t there to bring the dip. As these fun-interruptus types barge in, we see someone sitting on the steps. The androgynous figure is a character named “Butterfield” (Trevor Edmond). who is the biggest, baddest fan of “Nix.” Nix (Daniel von Bargen) is a mellow-voiced sorcerer who plans to sacrifice a young girl. The girl cowers in the corner while a large, nasty baboon bares its teeth and tries to bite her.
I think the point of the party and the sacrifice is to kill the world and hang around after and gloat. But, I’m not sure.
All the party goers are having a great time. They’re shaving their heads and looking at each other like good sex is going to happen soon. The head of the commandos is a guy named Swann (Kevin O’Connor). Things get crazy. Nix ends up dead and buried with an iron mask nailed to his head. The mask will keep the Lord of Illusions dead. In the meantime, Butterfield who survives the fracas, is getting really mad.
So we jump fifteen years. Swann is a world famous magician.
A detective (who knows the “dark-side” we’re told via a flashback and a newspaper headline) named Harry D’Amour (Scott Bakula) is on a case. When Harry stumbles on a murder-in-progress, it’s a revenge killing. Someone is stalking the people who broke up the party and nailed Nix, the Lord of Illusions. Of course Butterfield (now played by Barry Del Sherman) is involved and of course Harry decides to investigate. This takes him to Swann’s Beverly Hills mansion and Mrs. Swann (in name only we’re told), Famke Janssen.
So let’s skip ahead, shall we? Swann fakes his death.
Though Swann fools Butterfield, Butterfield still manages to dig up Nix and re-book the party with all the same folks invited. Of course, they’ll bring their scissors and razors. What fun. At the party, Swann ends up in a stand-off with Nix, who is disappointed because he had counted on Swann to help him kill the world. Afterwards, the Lord of Illusions assumed he and Swann could just hang out together. Poor Butterfield is so unappreciated. Harry shows up and there’s another stand-off. After the Lord of Illusions loses, predictably, the only people left are the best looking–Scott Bakula and Famke. The world is saved. My guess is both Famke and Scott considered firing their agents after this.
I kept watching despite the mess and confusion.
There were dangling plot lines like the client who paid Harry to investigate the unfaithful husband and the cool woman cop. Also I wondered why the Magic Castle magician helped Harry find some perfectly irrelevant info. What about Lord of Illusions did I find compelling?
I think it was Butterfield and the party-goers.
They were so passionate, so into whatever Nix was selling, it was seductive. The movie came alive during the party scenes and whenever Butterfield showed up. Otherwise I felt as if I was watching some good actors (Bakula, Janssen, O’Conner,etc.) looking like they would rather be having a root canal. All in all, I’d opt for the Lord of Illusions rather than the root canal, but as far as that party goes, I’m not shaving my head for no one.