Lord of Illusions (1995) Script

Swann.

And the fire said to me... said to me...

"Nix, Nix, you are my instrument.

From now on you shall be known... as... the Puritan.

You will find a few good men... and women...

and together... together...

you will cleanse the world."

Master.

Swann's here.

Are we ready?

Ready. Maybe we should think about this.

He's gone too far.

So he took a kid.

He's gonna kill her.

He could drive us crazy.

So stay out here!

Please get away from me.

Hush!

Please don't hurt me!

I said, hush.

What is it?

What's the matter, huh?

Please! Please!

What are you gonna do to me?

Leave me alone!

Want me to shoot, Swann?

Leave me alone!

You don't like him, do you?

He wants her magic. Maybe.

Go! Fetch him.

I think he's in love.

If you see the kid, yell.

Quaid. Hey, man.

It's Quaid.

I thought you weren't coming back.

I changed my mind.

You can't leave, man.

He won't let you.


You're gonna be okay.

Okay?

I knew you'd come.

I've got so much power to give you, Swann.

All you have to do... is beg.

Fuck you.

You don't think that I've got it to give?

You're wrong!

I could eat your fucking soul!

Now be a good girl.

Fuck!

Stay here.

Jennifer, are you okay? Jesus!

Stay away.

Stay the fuck away.

Are you okay?

How would you like... to see the world... the way it really is?

You wanna see flesh... with a god's eyes?


Swann?

Here he is.

Take a look, Swann.

These are your friends.


What have you done to him?

Swann... Don't touch me!

He got into my head!

You wanna be like that, Swann?

Mud? Shit?

Come here.

Share the power.


Swann.

Help me.

Bag.

Help me.

What are you doing? Binding you.

You piece of shit!

This isn't over, Swann.

This isn't finished.


Dead?

Dead.

What now?

We bury him so deep... no one will ever find him.


I been calling you for three days, Harry.

I missed you too, Loomis.

You got a beer?

I got a job for you... if you can tear yourself away from all this weird shit.

You need a woman's touch in here.

Why don't you get yourself a secretary?

On what you pay me?

So get married.

Tried that.

Oh, yeah.

"Harry D'Amour, who describes himself as a private detective... has been linked with occult activities on several occasions.

'We regard D'Amour as a highly dubious character...' quoted one source."

That's nice, Harry.

It's all bullshit.

It was on TV last night.

You looked like shit, by the way.

Thanks. What's the story?

Was the kid really possessed?

Probably.

By what?

You know.

The usual.

You need a vacation.

Somewhere sunny, like...

L.A.

That's where the job is?

Guy's name's Tapert. Big insurance fraud.

He's gone west to spend his ill-gotten gains.

It's worth ten grand... if you catch him doing it.

If I don't?

Catch a tan.

I need someone of your caliber on this, Harry.

Taste the darkness, D'Amour.

It's been waiting for you.

Yeah, well, maybe I do need a vacation.

You'll like L.A.

There's great weather, great women.


Here you go. Thanks. Have a nice evening.

You bet.

Hello, L.A.

9:18 p.m.

Tapert's paying by the hour.

He's getting his money's worth.

Come here, you fuckers! Come on in!

Wait a minute.

He's late for something.


What the hell?

Ever watched a man die?

If you watch very closely... you can sometimes see the soul escaping.

And if you're very quick... you can catch it.

I wasn't there.

Ask Pimm.

Pimm's dead.

Jennifer Desiderio's disappeared.

They knew the Puritan was coming home.

So did you.


Wait.

Don't leave me.

Did you come for a reading?

My God.

What?

You are drawn to the dark side... over and over.

You don't like that.

Not much.

You can't change it.

You must walk the line... between heaven and hell.

It is your destiny.

Accept it.

Hang on.

I'm not afraid to die.

There's something terrible... coming home soon.

The Puritan?

Who is he?

Shit.


What were you doing up here?

I'm a private detective.

I was hired to follow a guy named Tapert for a couple of days.

Insurance fraud. Tapert.

So now I've got Tapert, Butterfield...

Tapert's got nothin' to do with this.

He just came to get his palm read.

This is something else.

You ever heard of somebody called the Puritan?

New one on me. Let's see him.

Where the fuck is he?

He got up and walked.

After that fall, he would've broken half his bones.

I don't think he'd have given a shit.

D'Amour.

Why do I know that name?

I know him.

I saw him on TV.

Some kid got possessed, and he saved the little bastard's life.

A priest?

He's just some guy... who's got a nose for this shit.

Like you.

I don't want him getting in the way.

He won't.

We've, all of us, waited too long... to have the homecoming spoiled.

What do you mean, "all of us"?

A lot of people believed in Nix.

They haven't forgotten his promise.

About?

Death.

What about death?

It's an illusion.


Coffee, Mrs. Swann?

Yes, thank you.

Where's Mr. Swann?

In his study.

He got something on his mind?

Hey. Mr. Sunshine.

That's what I'm gonna call you.

Bad show?

The usual.

Full house.

Standing ovation.

I tell them it's magic.

They believe you.

Yeah.

Remember Quaid?

Sure.

I think they killed him.

Oh, God.

I just saw him too.

I'm putting in a new illusion tonight.

Something special. I want you to be there.

Of course.

You want me to find out about Quaid?

I mean, the funeral? No.

I'm not going anywhere near him.

Higher.

Another inch.

The left hand side is too low.

Valentin?

Good. There.

Yes?

I want you to find this man D'Amour for me.

Think any movie stars buried around here?

Probably.

It's not a bad place. It's warm, lots of palm trees.

I don't think the dead much care.

You sure?

Are you a believer, then? Oh, yeah.

I signed on for all of them in my time.

Catholic, Hindu, Moonies.

You can't have too many saviors.

Who's that?

Swann's wife.

I want you to help me help my husband.

He's in some kind of trouble... something to do with the man you saw murdered.

I think Philip believes all that stuff with the tarot cards.

And you don't?

I think we make our own futures.

So, what's the connection?

I don't exactly know.

Philip doesn't like to talk about the past.

Why not?

He's a secretive man.

And you don't ask questions?

We don't share our lives the way a lot of people do.

But obviously you still care about him.

We wouldn't be having this conversation if I didn't.

Swann is one of the most remarkable men alive.

You don't believe me?

He's an illusionist. That's not exactly brain surgery.

I'm sorry. You asked.

No, you're right.

He could've been something more.

Maybe a lot more.

But sometimes people get lost. Even good people.

Too much money, too much fame. Where do I sign up?

Will you take the job, Mr. D'Amour?

Harry. Harry.

When do you want me to start?

Come to the show with me.

It's his last performance in L.A. tonight.

I want you to see him with an audience. They love him.

Do you?

I didn't marry him for love, Mr. D'Amour.

Tonight? Sure.

Okay.


Excuse me.

Sorry.

I'm glad you could make it. Are you kidding?

This is a big deal for me.

I gotta have the tux back by midnight.

Valentin!

I'm here.

The guy with Dorothea... is that him?

Check if he's ready. Ready?

Ready.


How the fuck does he do that?

It's wires.

I don't see no wires. So, what is it? Magic?

Ladies and gentlemen... you are standing on the threshold of a miracle.


Come with me into the great beyond.

He's good.

You haven't seen anything yet.


This is the new illusion.


Have you seen this before?

There's something wrong here.


For God's sake!

Wait! Who are you?

Oh, God.

Please.

Please, Dorothea.

Come away.

It's no use.


I got you, you fucker!

Who did this, D'Amour?

Who killed Swann?

You did.

Didn't you?

Why would I?

Beats me.

You don't have a clue what you're into, do you?

I feel it!

Deep shit?

Who did this?

It was...

It was...


And this Butterfield guy?

Vanished.

Another fucking magician. Jesus.

You through with me?

For now.

You planning on moving back to New York?

No, not yet.


They treating you all right? Yeah.

I heard what happened.

I think I'm gonna stick around for a while.

Maybe dig in places that cops wouldn't look.

I wouldn't know where you'd start.

Maybe with the other illusionists?

They won't tell you anything.

I can be very persuasive.

Yeah.

I think you probably can.

Now, down here is what they call the repository.

Behind those locked doors... lies every secret of magic known to mankind.

Ever been in there? Me? No.

No, there are only three keys.

Vinovich has got one, of course.

It is more than entertainment.

We are opening up people's heads.

We are bringing miracles back into their miserable little lives.

But they're fake miracles.

Houdini believed he had spirit guides.

Do you believe that?

I believe... that we walk a narrow path... between...

Heaven and hell?

Divinity and trickery.

So then, sometimes... the miracles are real.

No. They are always fake.

The saints, the messiahs, they were just illusionists.

You could walk on water?

I can reproduce any miracle that has ever been performed... with a little preparation.

Even one of Swann's?

They were no damn good. Really?

That's funny. I heard he was one of the best.

If he was so good, why is he so dead?

You tell me.

I figured you'd have some theory.

I have many theories.

I'd like to hear one of them.

I'm not saying another word.

You damn fool, Wilder.

This man is a journalist.

No, I'm not a journalist. I just wanted to know about Swann.

He was a freak.

Everything he did was tainted.

With what? Evil!

He was evil.

Are you coming?

Do not speak to this man if you wish to keep my company.

That's a great accent. What is it, Brooklyn?

Fuck you, all right?

Harry.


I've got to be careful.

If Vinovich sees me talking to you... What do you want, Billy?

I heard a name.

Someone they talk about in whispers.

Who?

Nix.

He's dead now, but I think maybe he taught Swann.

Who's doing the talking?

Vinovich.

But you burned your bridges there.

This is me.

Good luck.

I loved what you did in there.

What are you looking at?

I just want to know what Philip saw in those cards and stop it from happening.

Divinity and trickery.

Jennifer Desiderio's disappeared.

D'Amour. Harry, I know it's late.

That's okay.

How'd it go today?

Went up to the Magic Castle.

You were right. He didn't have a lot of friends up there.

They were jealous of him.

Why? Because he had you?

He didn't have me. I told you.

Yeah, you didn't marry him for love.

So, why did you marry him?

That's none of your business, Harry.

You ever hear of somebody called Nix?

Dorothea?

Yeah, I'm here.

I don't know the name.

What about Jennifer Desiderio?

It doesn't ring a bell.

I have to go.

That's it?

All right. Look, I'll keep digging.

Yeah. You do that.

"Keep Out Police Department"

Ever watched a man die?


Yes.

"Desiderio."

What are you doing here?

Looking for you.

I tried the hotel. So why you'd come here?

You're a detective with no clues.

Where else would you look?

Do you mind?

I'll keep this brief.

Here's $30,000.

What for?

A ticket home.

You didn't hire me. She did. She wants me to stop, I wanna hear it from her.

She doesn't want to see you. No?

People are dying here. Yes.

It's a terrible tragedy.

Is that all you have to say?

It's a fucking terrible tragedy?

I want to know why. Why people die?

Give it up, D'Amour. Go home.

Don't try to see her, D'Amour.

Just leave her alone.

Lock up, will you?

Jennifer has only ever had one visitor.

Mr. Quaid? Right.

He's dead, isn't he? Yeah.

Heard it on the news.

Jennifer doesn't know... and frankly, this isn't the best time for her to be told.

I won't say anything.

She's been with us for four years and she was coming along nicely.

Past month she's been worst than ever.

What's her problem? She has no real grip on reality.

Does anybody? Oh, yes.

We have to agree on what's real and not. That's what holds us together.

What does Jennifer think is real?

She thinks the devil's coming for her.

Have we met before?

Only I forget.

They give me pills, you know, to make me even.

And I...

I forget things.

You didn't forget me.

I just came to see if you remembered a man named Butterfield.

Maybe. I...

That's okay. What about Philip Swann?

I knew Swann.

He's a fucking liar.

Why is that?

He said he knew how to protect us.

But he didn't know anything.

He made us think it was over and done with.

What was?

I don't wanna think about it.

If I think about it, he'll... he'll hear me.

He'll find me.

Swann?

I told you. I don't want...

What is it?

Calm down.

No, he'll get me!

He's not... He's not...

Who's not gonna get you?

Nix. Nix.

And he's the Puritan? Yes!

And he's dead? No.

He's coming back.

He's digging his way out.

I'll take care of her now.

Jesus.


Billy. Harry D'Amour.

Listen.

Supposing I wanted to get into the repository at the Magic Castle.

There we go.

You done something like this before?

I've had my moments.

Hold that up.

They've gotta have this place rigged. How?

It'll be something hokey.


Whoa!

Let's have a look around.


Butterfield's pal had this carved on his forehead.

Any idea what it is?

Nope.

What'd I tell you? So fucking hokey.

What have we got here?

Get the files. Fuck the files.

Billy, get the files!

Go on!

Jesus!

I could have lost my fucking hands!

That would have kept you out of the magic circle... which was presumably the idea.

Why don't you take a look through these?

Go on.

These must be about Nix.

The Puritan?

Look at that.

A Nix specialty?

I don't know any of these tricks.

Maybe they're not tricks.

What did Vinovich say? Something about walking the path between...

Trickery and divinity. He's saying that all the time.

He said that because he knew.

Son of a bitch.

He'd seen these and he knew.

Knew what?


Get it off of me! Where the fuck are you?

Hold it right there.

I said hold it...


Hokey enough for you?

I'm out of here, man.

Comin'?

Yeah.

I'm comin'.

I can't let you in.

This is the way he wanted it.

No autopsy... no embalming...

nobody meddling with his body.

"Flesh is a trap," he used to say.

"Flesh is a trap...

and magic sets us free."

Why did you come back?

I've been doing some digging.

What did you find?

Jennifer Desiderio, for one.

She threw herself in front of a car this afternoon.

Why don't you tell me the truth?

Nix ran some kind of a cult, right?

Some kind of a Charlie Manson deal?

It was more than that, I think.

He was the real thing, wasn't he?

Swann said he could do stuff.

Like?

He could levitate, juggle fire... and he could get into people's heads... make them see things.

Terrible things. What things?

I don't know.

And he taught some of this to Swann? Yes, some of it.

So then, Swann wasn't performing illusions.

He was doing magic.

Yes.

What? You thought he should be using it to cure cancer... instead of making millions?

Look, I told you. Right. I know. Too much fame.

That'd be enough to turn anybody's head, including yours.

Oh, fuck you.

You're the one who said you weren't with him for love.

I wasn't.

Then what?

What the hell was going on here?

I was grateful to him. For what?

Everything I had I owed to him.

And he loved me.

He couldn't always show it, but he felt it.

He thought Nix was coming back, didn't he?

Didn't he?

I can't help you unless you talk to me!

You can't help me. You don't know that!


I was so afraid.

Don't be.

Nix can't hurt you now.

I know.

I was the one who shot him.

I was 12.

Nix took me hostage to get Swann to come to him.

And they all came.

Yeah. Quaid and Jennifer and...

Swann and Pimm.

What was that?

Valentin?

Wait!

What the hell?

It's him. It's Nix.

Dorothea, stay there.


Find Valentin!

Find him and get him in here. Now!

This is sacrilege.

Are you satisfied now?

Don't worry. I'm not hurting him.

Looks like you're not a widow after all.

Sit down.

You rigged the illusion to fail, right?

Yes.

You set up the fake body?

And then what?

Because I was getting too close to something or someone... you called Swann?

No. First I tried to pay you off.

Was it Swann's idea?

It was mine.

I didn't want any more bloodshed.

That's why we went to all this trouble. So Nix would have no one to come after.

Nix is dead and buried, for fuck's sake! What is wrong with you people?

Haven't you seen enough to know that doesn't matter?

I want to meet with Swann face to face.

Why can't you just let this alone?

Let everyone think it's over.

Maybe he's right.

Maybe we should just let him stay dead.


Couldn't stay away, could you?

Had to see who cried over you the most, huh?

You know... a lot of people are gonna be pissed off when they find out you're still alive.

And they will, you know.

No matter how much shit you bury yourself under, you're gonna...

You shouldn't have followed me.

How do you do that?

Now I'm going to have to kill you.

I don't think so.

You need me alive.

Why? So you can fuck the woman I love?

If you love her so much, why did you widow her?

What a waste.

You can do shit that most of us can only dream about.

Then you go around pretending it's just some trick.

Illusionists get Las Vegas contracts.

Magicians get burned.

Yeah, or murdered like Nix.

Oh, he deserved it.

Maybe he doesn't feel that way.

Maybe he's digging himself out of that hole you put him in right now.

That's what you're hiding away from, isn't?

I did it for Dorothea.

Yeah?

Now that I'm dead, the spotlight's off her.

So Nix won't be looking for her. I betrayed him.

But she shot him. If I'm Nix, that'd piss me off a little bit.

I don't know what else to do.

Help me.

Look...

if Nix is back from the dead... then he is some kind of a god... and he'll find you wherever the fuck you go.

But if he's just another phony messiah... then you can stage the greatest comeback in history.


Who's there?

Easy.

I've sometimes thought... if I'd had another profession...

I would have been a surgeon.

To be able to heal with one little cut.

Say that those eyes of yours were troubling you.

Please. I could just scoop them out.

No, don't.

Then tell me where Nix is buried.

I don't know.

Wait! Wait!

I'll tell you.

Oh, you'll do more than that.


What is it?

Did Dorothea know where Nix was buried?

No.

Did Valentin?

Yes.

Do you like the look of these?

I made them myself... to set him free.

Why did you wait so long?

I didn't have the skill... to resurrect him... to teach myself.

That took time.

Think he'll be in a fit state to resurrect after 13 years?

If he was just a man... like me, then no... but he's not.

What is he, then?

Maybe he'll show you.

Anything?

Not yet.

If you have lied to me... No, I swear!

This is the place Swann told me about.

The rocks... Five more minutes.

Are you hearing me? I'm doing my best.

What have you got there?

Fucker!

Butterfield!

He's in the corner!

Don't touch him.

It's him.


Oh, Jesus Christ!


Smell it.

He's coming. He's coming.

He will come.


Help me!

Get out of the car.

Get out of the fuckin' car!

He's got Dorothea.

And Nix? Yes.

Don't bother about me. Shut up!

We've already lost enough lives.

Please accept my apologies, D'Amour.

For what?

You're going to lose one more.

No!

He's better off this way.

Nobody's better off this way.

You don't get it, do you?

This is where we're all goin'.

Do you wish him amongst us?

Yes.

Will you come unto him upon your knees?

Be ready.


Listen. You got everything you want.

You don't need me.

No, but he will, after what you did to him.

He'll want vengeance.


Christ in heaven!

My lord.

He's coming home.

He's with us.

He's with us.

Hold her!


Open your eyes.

He's with us.


Where is Swann?

He's dead. No, he isn't.

I swear.

Children.

Will you suffer to come unto me?

Jesus.

What the hell is goin' on in there?

At a guess, they just resurrected him.

Fuck!

I've come back to bring you the wisdom of the grave.

Will you hear it? Yes.

Follow me.

Do I know you, child?

Yes.

I do, don't I?

No gun this time, child?

Where is Swann?

I don't know where he is.

He'll come.

We have unfinished business, he and I.


This is where we killed him.

Looks like you didn't try hard enough.

I can't go any further.

Where is she, you fuck, huh?

Are you ready for my wisdom?

Here is my wisdom.

Go! Help her!

You see, I escaped from the grave... so I have to give something to the grave in return.

Yes. Show us.

Show us, Puritan.


I have to give something back... so I'm giving you.

What's happening?


Go ahead, bleed.

Bleed!


What are you doing?

You're not worthy.

None of you.

Fuck you!

Only Swann is worthy.

You just waited like lambs.

I'm not your shepherd.


You're not Swann.

Who are you?

Oh, I know what you want.

Hold on!

Nix!

There you are.

Come on!

I've had a long time... to think about you.

Where did I go wrong?

And?

I should have been honest with you from the start.

I wasn't born to show people the error of their ways.

I was born... to murder the world.

You can still help me do that if you want.

Why would I wanna do that?

The lady has a new love in her life.

Your friends are all dead.

No one can save you now... but me.

Come on! We can't leave him there!

I'm not going to!

Bitch!

Butterfield!

Will you help me?

Yes.

Now you know I will kill you when we're done. I have to.

Yes. But until then... it'll be just the two of us... the way it always was.

Yes.

Wait.

You still feel something for that bitch?

Yes.

Will...

you... never...

learn?

She's just flesh...

Swannie boy!

I'll show you.


Dorothea?

Dorothea?

Where is she? Where did she go?

You've got Swann's disease.

You think that with a little courage and a little love... that it'll all be all right.

Tell me where she is and I'll make it go away.

Dig, D'Amour.

Touch the darkness.

It's been waiting for you.

Harry, it's not real.

Now listen to me.

Look at me!

You'll be okay.

There you are, child.

Come along, child.


What are you seeing now?

There.


One... last... illusion.

What's it going to be?

Fire to burn out your eyes? Let's go!

I'm sure Swann loved your eyes.

You shouldn't have taken him away from me.

We were going to be together... when I finished with the world.

We were going to keep each other company... in the dark.

But I'm on my own.

We're all on our own.

The grave is lonely.

But living is worse.

What the fuck are you?

A man who wanted to be a god... then changed his mind.

I'm going to be rotten shit from now on.

The car.

Can you raise me up like the car?

I'm going to show the world what's waiting at the end.

And I am going to make it... despair.


Fucker!


It's me.


Is it finished?

I think so.


Run.

Run!


And the fire said to me... said to me...

Hush!

You will see flesh with a god's eyes.

I was born... to murder the world.

"Flesh is a trap."

That's what he used to say.

"Flesh is a trap...