There probably aren't many things in life more unsettling than the thought of having a stalker. Not knowing where someone will show up, awkwardly positioning themselves within your personal space, teetering on the cusp of going full on unhinged at any perceived notion that you might not want such attention. This is the crux of Director Neil Jordan's thriller, Greta.
But, is Greta a new genre classic, or just something to run from?
Frances (Chloe Grace Moretz) has recently moved to New York City, sharing an apartment with her best friend, Erica (Maika Monroe). Still processing the recent death of her mother, Frances is a reluctant socialite, better suited for a book and blanket on a Saturday night than the party hopping Erica. When she finds a bag left on the subway, Frances' instinct is to seek out the owner and return it. Who she finds on the other end of her search is Greta (Isabelle Huppert), charming and proper, more than happy to oblige her company with a spot of tea and conversation.
A new friendship is forged. Frances is drawn to Greta, feeding off the older lady's maternal instinct. Greta is professed to be quite lonely, also suffering from the untimely deaths of her husband and daughter many years earlier. It's a natural bond between two lonely souls, both lacking key figures in their lives. They even save dogs together. Sort of.
But, it doesn't take long for this friendship to take a sinister turn, as certain motivations begin to reveal themselves.
The cast is talented and all in on their respective performances, especially Huppert in as unlikely a turn as this is given her pedigree. But, they deserved better than the cliche riddled, paint-by-numbers script they are given. All genre tropes are systematically checked off as the film progresses, and most of the tense moments are telegraphed well in advance. And I despise when films take normal characters and give them an abnormal, almost supernatural, spin for no other reason than to amp up the tension. It happens a couple of times in eye-rolling fashion, and it sticks out, not in a good way.
Amidst all of the cliches, there are some characters that feel completely unnecessary, story beats that feel tacked on (poor Morton), and main characters that fall into typical genre trappings... doing illogical things given the circumstances they're dealing with.
That's not to say Greta is a complete waste of time... there are a few effective scenes, mostly involving Huppert... as when she spends an entire day standing on the sidewalk across the street from Frances' workplace, stone-faced and creepy, indicating if nothing else, she's committed.
So what you essentially have in Greta is a somewhat lazy thriller that you'll likely forget you saw six months from now. There just isn't enough new an exciting pushing the bar higher. Even the worthy cast can't elevate far enough for me to say you should give it any more than a cursory glance on a streaming service down the road.
Steve has been writing moderately well on the Internet for over ten years. As a middle aged fan-boy, he acknowledges that his relevance in today's culture is barely recognized, but he continues to pretend people like him. Maybe you will too. Aficionado of 80's culture and guacamole. Mildly amused by pandas.