Starring Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Colm Feore, Stephen Rea
You never quite know what to expect when you sit down for one of Irish director Neil Jordan’s films. “The End of the Affair” was unpredictably sexual, “The Brave One” outrageously violent and suspenseful, even his vampire flick “Byzantium” gave the genre a completely different perspective. His latest thriller “Greta” makes very good use of Isabelle Huppert who was recently nominated by the Academy for another seductive thriller “Elle.” Outrageous doesn’t begin to describe the events of “Greta.” Jordan masterfully crafts all of his genre films, but he takes this one to wildly erratic new heights. It’s essentially a Tarantino/Shyamalan type horror film that isn’t afraid to take the audience on a wild goose chase.
Naïve and impressionable, Frances McCullen (Chloë Grace Moretz) finds a purse on the subway with a wallet inside. Her roommate Erica (Maika Monroe) says they should keep the money, but Frances is honest and seeks out the owner. The purse belonged to Greta (Isabelle Huppert), a French widow living alone in New York, desperate for companionship. Frances, who just lost her mother last year, finds comfort and solace in Greta’s company. They become friends until the evening where Frances finds something in Greta’s house that scares her to the bone. She tries to cut ties with the strange woman, but an obsession has formed, and Greta begins psychotically stalking her. The police are no help and Frances must take matters into her own hands.
"You will never look at cookie cutters the same way again."
Ray Wright (“The Crazies”) and Jordan’s script create a psychological terror that feels similar to M. Night Shymalan’s “The Visit.” Jordan puts no ceiling for how wildly camp “Greta” becomes. Every scene seems to have no boundaries. You will never look at cookie cutters the same way again. This isn’t a perfect thriller by any means. Viewers who prefer more fact-checked realism will become disinterested fairly early with a film that ignores all the rules. Also, there are a few false turns in the narrative that string the audience along needlessly. However, this engaging film will have audiences clapping, shouting suggestions to characters and even covering there eyes at some moments.
When asked in an interview why she chose to do the film, Moretz said, “You don’t say no to working with Huppert.” Indeed, it’s the ostentatious Huppert who isn’t afraid of any subject matter that makes “Greta” so remarkable and so riveting. Small touches like Greta dancing in her stockings over a body while the turntable plays make the film slightly sadistic. Huppert creates the perfect villain that should evoke quite a few “that’s messed up” reactions before reaching its applause-worthy conclusion. Moretz is well cast here but Huppert steals the show. Frequent horror film actress Maika Monroe (“It Follows”) completes this female trifecta, getting some juicy moments of her own.
Final Thought – “Greta” is the surprise of TIFF 2018, an unpredictable thrill ride of madness.