For the most part, I believe this film to be quite underrated. Yeah, its pretty much right in the middle when it comes to Clive Barker films: not as good as "Hellraiser" but better than "Nightbreed", but there are a lot of great things that happen in this film. Unfortunately, this film has an almost too epic for its own good storyline and thusly tends to brush over things too quickly for my tastes too.
Now I've been a Clive Barker fan for years. Whether its his writing, directing, or painting I think he is quite brilliant. Unfortunately, its his directing that tends to be the lesser of the three as he tends to be hit or miss even for the die hard fans. "Lord Of Illusions" is an example of such. Great enriched storytelling that is hindered by some cliche moments and borderline cheesiness. If one is able to get around these elements (although the love making scene still has some of the most cliche and hilarious music ever!) then one can see some of the better parts including some of the ideologies within the story about death and the difference between magic and illusion.
Bakula surprisingly is able to carry this film on his back but its the cult favorite Kevin J O Connor that pulled me in most of the time. His character of Swann tends to be underdeveloped in the script (technically he isn't the main character) and although it leaves a lot of his decisions in shrouds of mystery, there are some moments where one thinks "why" a bit too much and it detracts from the film. This goes with almost all the characters though. As a film fan, this is somewhat frustrating.
As I said earlier, this film is almost too epic for its own good and although it carries a lot of weight in its concept (the philosophical statements and struggles with Nix at the end make this feel as a bit anti-climactic in the suspense and horror sense but very interesting in the 'let's talk about the the end of the world and afterlife' sense) much of the film tends to be dragged out a bit.
I almost wanted this to be a mini-series of sorts. Yeah, most mini-series that are based on horror writers tend to suck (I'm talking to you Stephen King!) but this needed way more time to delve into characters and concepts. I still love this film but I wanted it to be so much more then it could ever be.
Written By Matt Reifschneider
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