Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Neil Jordan
Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Chloe Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Stephen Rea, Colm Feore.
Oscar winning Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Interview With The Vampire, etc) channels Hitchcock with this stylish and suspenseful pulpy B-grade thriller that serves up a variation on the familiar stalker/slasher genre that was popular in the 80s and 90s. Greta is part Fatal Attraction, part Misery and part Single White Female. This is a slow burn thriller that becomes increasingly tense, unsettling and even a bit silly by the end.
Frances McCullen (Chloe Grace Moretz, from Let Me In, etc) has moved to New York where she works as a waitress in an upmarket restaurant. She also shares a studio apartment with her friend Erica (Maika Monroe, from It Follows, etc). One night while returning home on the subway she spots a designer handbag left on a seat on the train. The next day she tracks down the owner with the intention of returning the purse and its contents. Greta Hedig (legendary French actress Isabelle Huppert, in a rare English-speaking role) is at first a lonely old woman who lives in a small house in Brooklyn. She is appreciative of Greta’s honesty. Because her own mother has recently passed away Frances forms an instant connection with the matronly Greta and a friendship develops between the pair.
But before too long Frances discovers that there is a darker side to Greta. She turns out to be an unhinged sociopath who relentlessly pursues and scares Frances with her intimidating presence and unnerving ability to pop up in inconvenient locations as she tries to ingratiate herself into the younger woman’s life. But when Frances tries to break off the relationship Greta turns nasty. Even the police seem unable to intervene or help.
Huppert is perfectly cast here as the psychotic and obsessive Greta, and her role may remind many of her chilling and cold performance in Michael Haneke’s thriller The Piano Teacher which also tapped into her ability to play creepy, nasty and scary. She relishes her role here and chews the scenery at every opportunity. The doe-eyed Moretz is a perfect foil for Huppert and her naivete offers a nice contrast. Monroe is very good as the resourceful Erica who at one point finds herself stalked by Greta, and she also provides some welcome comic relief. Jordan regular Stephen Rea pops up in a brief role as a private investigator while Colm Feore appears as Frances’ widowed father.
Jordan cowrote the script with screenwriter Ray Wright (better known for his work on horror films like Case 39, etc), and they milk the usual tropes of the genre and this is fairly conventional and formulaic stuff, although he and Jordan do manage to work in a couple of surprises. There are plenty of holes in the plot and some glaring inconsistencies, but in the end that doesn’t really matter as Greta holds the attention tightly and doesn’t really allow you to think about them too deeply until after the credits have rolled.
The film has been nicely and atmospherically shot by Oscar nominated cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (Atonement, etc), who imbues the dimly lit streets of New York with a palpable sense of menace.