DIRECTOR: neil jordan (interview with the vampire, the crying game, byzantium)
STARRING: chloe grace moretz, isabelle huppert, maika monroe, and stephen rea
REVIEWER: lyall carter
A young woman befriends a lonely widow who's harbouring a dark and deadly agenda towards her.
Even though its set during modern times, Greta has an other worldly feel to it; its a film that feels like it belongs to another time. Perhaps its the colour palette, the costume design, or the art direction but it just has that feel that it belongs in a Hitchcockian world. And its a darn creepy one at that.
Frances finds a handbag on the New York subway and promptly returns it to Greta, an eccentric French piano teacher who loves tea and classical music. Having recently lost her mother, young Frances strikes up a seemingly harmless friendship with the lonely and kindly widow who enjoys her company. But when Greta's behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and obsessive, Frances does whatever it takes to end the toxic relationship before things spirals out of control.
As with the vast majority of physiological thrillers there are tiny little details that annoyed me about Greta: like turn off your phone at night when your stalkers trying to stalk you, don't walk down that dark alley, and don't hang around but run away WHEN ITS VERY CLEAR THAT SOMEONE IS BEHIND YOU!!!! Sorry - but come on people - just run!
But on the whole Neil Jordan's take on Greta is fresh look at the genre in many ways: the villain is not a caricature of pure evil but has a believable backstory that fuels her evil, there are details that normally irk me about such films that he addresses in inventive ways, and there's little social jabs too (which is very Jordan) at the inability for someone to get a trespass notice against a stalker until they harm their victim.
The pace of the narrative is great as it unfurls at a great speed. There is a slight over use of the stringed section in more dramatic places of the film (I get it - I know I'm meant to be freaked out - trust me, I am!) and you can see part of the final act coming a mile off but overall its a ripping yarn with squirms and screams aplenty. The final shot of the film is pure cinematic gold.
Chloe Grace Moretz has a heck of a lot more to play with here than I've ever seen her have to deal with and she handles everything from the normalcy of life to utter terror with aplomb. Isabelle Huppert is absolutely terrifying in her polite menace and is deliciously devilish. Its also a great joy to see a Jordan veteran Stephen Rea back on the big screen.
Prepare to squirm. Greta will give you the thrills and chills.