Greta is a new thriller co-written and directed by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) and starring Isabelle Huppert (Elle) and Chloë Grace Moretz (Let Me In). The film follows a young woman who befriends an old widow, soon discovering that the widow’s intentions were more sinister than she could have imagined. It debuted at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of the movie is that the plot is so aggravatingly straightforward. With the talent in front of and behind the camera, you would expect that the schlocky thriller is a facade for something more complex. There really isn’t anything more to it. This is just a B-movie with A-list names attached to it, which is unfortunate.
One big issue with the script is that it seemingly lacks any understanding of how stalking works. For one, Greta is a terribly dumb stalker. Significant portions of the film involve her using trackable technology, but no one tracks it. That would have been too easy, right? Also, it is discussed multiple times how Greta’s stalking is not illegal. According to New York penal code, a person can be found guilty of stalking if they are endangering the victim’s employment. That is the case at least three times in the movie, and yet police officers still say that Greta was within her rights.
Another significant problem that the film has is its lackluster character development. In all honesty, Greta is a more interesting character than the protagonist. Greta isn’t sympathetic because she is straight up psychotic. On the other hand, Frances just isn’t that well-written. Although she does get brownie points for being a good samaritan, she loses a lot of sympathy for the many stupid decisions she makes. As a result, we are left with a movie that doesn’t have a lead whose story we want to follow.
The best part of the film, hands down, is Isabelle Huppert’s performance. Although it doesn’t stack up against her Oscar-nominated performance in Elle, Huppert gives an over-the-top and enjoyable performance. She seems to realize how preposterous the script is, and as such, is able to make the movie at least somewhat enjoyable at times. She turns the film from painful to a somewhat watchable B-movie.
On the other hand, the rest of the actors are entirely underused. Moretz, an extremely talented actress, isn’t given a particularly wide range of emotions to experience. She spends almost the entirety of the runtime either angry or afraid. Maika Monroe (It Follows), who plays the protagonist’s roommate and best friend, is given a few strong scenes, but not what she deserves. And Stephen Rea (V for Vendetta)? This role was a complete waste of his talent.
Visually, the film wasn’t bad. There are some interesting things going on with the production design and cinematography. The scenes in Greta’s house particularly stand out in this regard. However, there are certain sets, like a deadly elevator, that don’t exactly fit with the movie as a whole (that’s likely more the fault of the script, though).
That being said, the film completely fails on the musical front. The soundtrack and score for the film are absolutely ridiculous and do not match the tone of what is happening at all. A majority of the film is scored with classical music, which works pretty well. Then there are random cut-ins with cheesy horror music that, quite frankly, ruin scenes. Every once in a while, a poppy song can be thrown in for good (or bad) measure.
Overall, Greta was a huge disappointment. With the level of talent behind and in front of the camera, it should have been great. Instead, we get a schlocky B-movie that is too self-serious to even be fun.
Greta opens in theaters March 1.