Greta Review: A fresh stalker flick full of fun surprises
With a strong vision and direction from Academy Award winner Neil Jordan, his new film, Greta, ends up being an incredibly fun stalker flick even when it asks for a lot.
The film follows Frances McCullen (Chloe Grace Mortez), a naïve girl who is reeling from the death of her mother, finds a bag on the subway one day and returns it to its owner, an older woman named Greta (Isabelle Huppert). The two develop a strong friendship and begin to spend a lot of time together. However, once Frances realizes a dark secret to how the two “accidently” have come together, she ends their friendship. Since this doesn’t sit well with Greta, she begins to stalk Frances, as well as her loved ones, thus causing Frances to be on edge as she discovers the dark secrets that Greta has been hiding.
Initially, the film starts off on an iffy foot as it asks viewers to believe that a lot of the film’s premise is believable. In this day and age, especially in New York City, it’s tough to believe that anyone would see a bag on a subway and take it to its owner rather than just call the cops. The film even makes light of it with Frances’ roommate Erica (Maika Monroe) saying that her helpful personality will lead to bad things. It never really gets resolved and Frances never visibly learns anything from what happens to it’s not like it’s a big theme of the movie or anything. Perhaps, if the film gave more insight to what’s going on inside Frances’ head, if would’ve been easier to believe, but it never really does so it just comes off as unrealistic.
With that said, though, while there is also some awkward dialogue at the start of the film, Greta ends up being a wild and fun thriller that just wouldn’t be the same if Jordan and the cast weren’t involved. Jordan uses great musical cues that sharpen the tension he slowly builds throughout the film as Greta becomes uncomfortably closer. There’re some typical stalker movie moments, like Greta stalking Erica and making trouble for Frances at work, but Jordan adds some interesting uses of social media and dream sequences that actually caught me by surprise.
Oddly enough, even with my complaints for the film’s premise set-up and even for why Greta necessarily does what she does, I couldn’t help myself from being fully invested by the time the film’s wild finale came. Throughout the film’s excellently tense finale, I was avid rooting for Frances to come out okay and for Greta to get her just desserts.
Perhaps it could be because Mortez and Huppert give great performances or Jordan’s ability to slowly give details about the environment that make a big impact. It could also be the more R-rated antics that happens in the films final act that are both horrifying and cringe-inducing to see and make you feel like you’re watching something truly insane. Regardless, it all works and elevates the film to be smarter than the average stalker flick.
It’s also worth noting that I wasn’t even alone in feeling this way as I could hear other audience members exclaiming their wish for Frances to escape and see her survive. These remarks never came off sarcastically or in a “WTF” fashion, but rather with care and empathy. A movie like this could just come off as typical and forgettable, but for audiences to out-loudly recognize that this isn’t the case speaks to the credibility Greta deserves.
For a film that could easily be sworn off based off of an initial reaction, there is a lot of great effort that makes Greta a fun surprise. It has premise that never gets old, a genuine sense of care put into it, and a finale full of creepy and tense fun that viewers won’t be able to help but love.
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