review for Lord of Illusions on AllMovie

Lord of Illusions (1995)
by Karl Williams review

Best-selling novelist Clive Barker writes and directs this trippy horror film, based on one of his short stories, that starts off strong with an intriguing premise, but then goes quickly nowhere. As the noir detective hero Harry D'Amour (not too obvious a last name), TV star Scott Bakula is badly miscast, his "Aw, shucks" charm and wholesome demeanor are utterly wrong for the supernatural world-weary character he's playing here. What malfunctions worst in this tale, however, is the script. In misdirecting the audience's attention in act one, then surprising them with a plot twist, Barker cleverly stages a story that's set up as a feature-length magic trick. It's a terrific idea, but all he succeeds in doing is subsequently losing his viewer in a morass of flashbacks, dream-like hallucinogenic sequences, and maladroit love scenes. Who's the real villain in charge around here, anyway? It's never clear whether it's Swann, Nix, both of them, or Satan himself, and that means a third act that droops and baffles. Female lead Famke Janssen brings her usual blend of sensuality and brittle edginess to her role, but that's not enough to satisfy those only casually interested in horror, magic, or noir. For those who are interested in those three genres, skip Lord of Illusions and try the made-for-TV classic Cast a Deadly Spell (1991).