Author and filmmaker Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions is an engaging horror-fantasy that has all the elements to make it feel like a greatest hits of his former work. However, it feels like it was tamed down to make it suitable for a mainstream audience and because of this it often feels rather bland. Having said that, there are some stand-out sequences and impressive visuals on display here. Time has been good to Lord of Illusions, giving it a unique place in big-budget horror. It’s a classically paced piece without gimmicks, made with an honest approach to telling delivering a tale that could only be told by a filmmaker like Clive Barker. However, it’s a reminder that when making horror, more scope doesn’t necessarily make for a better movie.
The film follows Harry D’Amour (Scott Bakula), a private investigator, specialising in the occult as he investigates the death of an illusionist (Kevin J O’Connor). D’Amour’s case involves a mysterious cult and it’s obsessive group of followers who are eager to reinstate the mysterious Nix (Daniel von Bargen) as their leader.
Merging S&M with the horror and fantasy genres with the likes of Hellraiser and Candyman, Barker has delivered his own unique spin on horror, coming across as a mix of H.P Lovecraft, Stephen King and Francis Bacon. As a writer, director and artist, Barker has been given multiple platforms to share his twisted surrealist perversities with his audience and Lord Of Illusions feels the the ultimate convergence of his work.This 1995 film may not be a total artistic success, but at least you know that Barker is adapting and directing his own short story, The Forbidden, for the screen.
Budgeted at $11 million, Lord Of Illusions grossed $13 million at the US box office when it was released in 1995.