Lord of Illusions

Lord of Illusions ★★★½

It's a cool premise - The immortal leader of an apocalypse cult is captured, bound a buried by former cult members in an attempt to stop the end of the world. Thirteen years later, the perpetrators begin to be murdered. One of the still-surviving former-cult members (Kevin O'Connor) brings in a paranormal investigator (Scott Bacula) to determine if their old master has returned with a taste for revenge.

There's something about movies based upon Clive Barker's work that seems to exude a real sense of inescapable fate. Lord of Illusions is no different. The task presented for the lead character, an investigation which from the get go seems horribly ill-advised, sets the tone for the entire movie. The working parameters for the characters are simple - Magic exists, it always comes at a cost, and most people have no idea. Add to the mix the fact that the story takes place within a community of illusionists, some of whom use their profession to whitewash the actual magic they're invoking. Because of this effective narrative device, the characters and the viewers alike find themselves witnessing events that can never be taken at face value.

The movie has its shortcomings, not the least of which are visual effects which were marginal even at the time (think The Lawnmower Man). Fortunately, strong performances from Bacula, O'Connor and Daniel von Bargen as the pungent cult leader "Nix", anchor the film enough to maintain this viewer's uninterrupted emersion.

It certainly isn't for everyone, but if you find merit in the bleakness of other Barker-based works like Hellraiser, Rawhead Rex or Nightbreed, this one's worth a close look.

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