By Carmen Saffioti
Published: March 6th, 2019
Greta is the latest thriller/ horror film by director Neil Jordan about a young woman living New York who befriends and is later stalked by a lonely European woman.
The young woman, Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz), recently lost her mother and Greta (Isabelle Huppert) is widowed. The two seem like the perfect match until Frances discovers that Greta intentionally lured her in. Frances then has to try and get rid of her obsessive stalker. The film takes place in a saccharine version of version of New York City where two young waitresses, Frances and her roommate, can afford a giant apartment in Manhattan. It is also to the dreamy background music of Franz Liszt’s “Liebestraum” or love dream, which becomes a reoccurring metaphor in the film. Despite some things that worked really well, like the performance given by Isabelle Huppert, the stiff dialogue, predictable plot, and overall bad screen writing made this film more of a gimmick rather than the deep metaphorical statement it clearly wanted to be.
At the end of the first act, Frances tells Greta that her friends say she is like chewing gum– she tends to stick around. This corny pun becomes one on the thickest and in-your-face metaphors in the movie. This type of on the nose, cheesy fake deep writing makes it incredibly difficult to actually immerse yourself into the emotions of Frances as she is stalked by this elderly woman. Another glaring problem was the questionable choices the characters made by the third act.
*Major Spoilers* After months of stalking, Greta kidnaps Frances, and her roommate, Erica, takes it upon herself to get lured in by Greta herself, instead of alerting police that she is most likely at her stalkers house. While this was supposed to be a dramatic plot twist at the end of the film, the idea is just so preposterous and idiotic it’s hard to go along with it. Also in the third act, while Frances is kidnapped, Greta lets her out to do creepy mother-daughter activities like playing piano and baking. It is so obvious that Frances could easily overpower Greta and escape, but Frances doesn’t even try until a few weeks into her kidnapping. However, after she injures and knocks out Greta, she is unable to open a single door or window. It leaves audience members wondering how naïve and stupid the writers can make the characters to carry this already predictable plot.
Greta clearly had the ambition to be a much better, perhaps even a great movie. The writers seemed to want to create a horror film that was more than just jump scares or gore, but a horror film that had universal human feelings of loneliness and the fear of being followed. But even with a great writer and director like Neil Jordan, who is best known for his film Interview with the Vampire, could not pull together the right narratives to make a compelling story. Despite my criticism, Greta is not a bore– it’s quite the hot entertaining mess. This film would be fun to watch with friends as it is filled with suspense and plenty of corny lines you can laugh along to.