Deadly Illusions is a hit Netflix movie that follows best-selling author Mary Morrison (Kristin Davis). Strange things start to happen when she begins a new book and hires Grace (Greer Grammer) as a nanny. Many people have discussed Deadly Illusions because it’s semi-campy and has an ending that makes you go “huh?” The Deadly Illusions ending makes you question what’s real, what’s fake, and what’s totally bizarre. It’s one of those endings that makes you look inward and go “what did I just watch?”
The confusion with the Deadly Illusions ending is half the fun. It leaves you pondering everything that happened in the film. It’s one of the most talked about movies on Netflix for a reason, so let’s dive into the Deadly Illusions ending.
Warning spoilers ahead about the Deadly Illusions ending and plot.
What Happened At The End of Deadly Illusions
In the final act of the movie, Mary finds her friend Elaine (Shanola Hampton) murdered in her office. The police suspect that Mary killed Elaine. They have plenty of evidence to support this theory, including video footage of a woman who looks like her in a disguise with a scarf covering her head.
Mary escapes the police station and tracks down Grace’s family. She finds out that Grace has lived a terrible life that includes abuse. She calls her husband Tom (Dermot Mulroney) to warn him to not let Grace around him and the children. Meanwhile, Grace is already there. She has a confrontation with Tom and slashes him repeatedly with a knife.
Mary arrives and Grace reveals that she has a dissociative personality disorder. She frequently becomes Margaret to cope with her trauma, but since Grace met the Morrison family, she has been trying to destroy Margaret. Margaret emerges and attempts to kill Mary, but Grace fights Margaret back, allowing Mary to knock her out. Flash forward a year later and the Morrison family is happy and better than ever.
Mary goes to visit Grace in the psychiatric hospital, and Deadly Illusions ends with a shot of someone who looks like the same mysterious woman who killed Elaine leaving the hospital.
Who Is The Mysterious Woman At The End Of Deadly Illusions?
We only see this mysterious woman twice in the film: in video footage after Elaine’s murder and at the Deadly Illusions ending. If all the events in the film are to be taken at face value, then she’s whoever killed Elaine, and likely either Mary or Grace in disguise. Because the woman is only seen like this after she killed Elaine, it’s assumed that Mary or Grace has killed again.
Grace has either killed Mary and escaped the hospital, or Mary has killed Grace and left before anyone discovers her crime. Mary and Grace are both shown wearing a trench coat, so that’s not a good indicator of which one is the woman at the end. The Deadly Illusions ending offers no clear answers on who killed Elaine, because no one confesses to it. It, however, makes more sense if Mary killed Elaine.
It’s revealed at the end of Deadly Illusions that Elaine isn’t Mary’s friend but her therapist. It makes the most sense that Mary killed Elaine because she was worried Elaine would try to stop her mental breakdown, and she also had some jealousy about Elaine’s relationship with Tom. If Grace is a figment of Mary’s imagination, then the answer is the woman at the end is both of them.
The Intent Behind The Ambiguous Deadly Illusions Ending
Did the Deadly Illusions ending confuse you? Then writer and director Anna Elizabeth James did her job. In an E! Online interview with James and Greer Grammer, they discuss how the film is meant to be confusing. James said that she intended for the film to not offer clarity. She wants the audience to have "that frustrating feeling" of not exactly knowing what happened.
Grammer added that Deadly Illusions is almost like “ a choose your own adventure” for the audience to wonder and make their own conclusions about the Deadly Illusions ending and plot. One of the fun things about this movie is that it provides evidence and clues to back up the three main theories: everything is real, it’s all the plot of Mary’s book, and Mary is having a psychotic break. Let’s further explore each option and how the film provides evidence for each theory.
Is The Deadly Illusions Ending Real?
Deadly Illusions supports this theory by showing Grace’s past. She clearly endured horrible abuse by her parents, then her aunt, and probably in the foster care system. There is also a scene that shows Grace’s brother asking her to play a game and become Margaret. She’s reluctant at first until he offers her food. She becomes the Margaret character to separate herself from her trauma and abuse. Many people who endured years of abuse could develop dissociative identity disorder.
If the woman at the end is Grace then Margaret still exists within her, and she likely knocked out or killed Mary, stole her clothes, and walked out. In an interview with Hollywood Life, Greer Grammer mentioned that Anna Elizabeth James is working on a treatment for a sequel. She also stated that she wants to see Grace out of the hospital living a healthy life. If everything is real, then I think the sequel will follow Grace’s post-hospital life.
Is The Deadly Illusions Ending Mary's Book Plot?
The theory I most believe is that the whole film is just Mary’s book plot. We see a ton of evidence to support this theory. Towards the Deadly Illusions ending, we see a close-up of Mary’s storyboard and many of the things that happen in the film, like her fight with Tom, are on the storyboard. The police officer even mentions that many of the things that have been happening in real life are in her manuscript.
We see a scene play out with Grace getting angry after applying for a job at the nanny agency, then we see a do-over with her being calm about the rejection. I believe that’s Mary rewriting the scene live. She decided that doesn’t fit Grace’s character, and rewrites that scene. It's also interesting that Grace is one of eight siblings and Mary has eight books in her series. The eight siblings, to me, are Mary’s eight books, though the one she is currently writing would be her ninth book.
Newsweek compiled a list of some fan theories about Deadly Illusions and one theory pointed out an interesting take. It stated that all the crazy plot twists are Mary’s publishers giving her notes. We see a scene in the film where Mary is annoyed with their notes. Mary definitely was not a fan of Darlene (Abella Bala), so I can see her making the story as ridiculous as possible to spite Darlene.
Mary was mad at Tom while writing the book, so it would explain why he is painted as weak in her book. First by giving into Margaret’s seduction and then by easily getting stabbed. There are many quotes that seem like something no real person would say, but instead, seems like Mary complimenting herself through her writing, such as having Tom praise her as a wife and mother.
Is The Deadly Illusions Ending Just Mary's Psychotic Break?
Throughout the story, Mary mentions that she loses herself when she writes. She also tells Elaine’s husband that she experienced her darkest time when she wrote book four. Many times in the movie, we aren’t sure if things are really happening, especially when it comes to Grace seducing Mary. Grace seems to magically disappear after they engage in some type of sexual act. At the end of Deadly Illusions, Mary loses a big chunk of time, and then Elaine is found murdered.
When we learn Elaine is Mary’s therapist, her notes say that Mary loses time and she’s worried about her mental state. She also comes to see Tom to talk to him about Mary’s mental state. We also have various quotes from Elaine implying that Grace isn’t real. And Elaine’s worrying about Tom’s infidelity with Grace could easily be Mary projecting her fears of Tom being unfaithful with Elaine in her fantasy conversations with Elaine.
I think Mary continues to lose grip with reality, resulting in her murdering Elaine and creating Grace. If Grace isn’t real, then I also believe the final few scenes didn't happen, such as Tom’s attack, meeting Grace’s family, etc. It seemed way too easy for Mary to leave the police station, so I don’t believe she did. I believe she’s arrested for Elaine’s murder, tried, and sent to a psychiatric ward. The woman at the end could be her escaping it. But what do you think? Vote in the poll below!
Deadly Illusions is one of the 2021 Netflix movies to add to your to-watch list because it’s one of the strangest 2021 movies, which adds to its entertainment factor. Stream Deadly Illusions on Netflix here.