It’s great when you see a movie that hasn’t been hyped to the point at which it’s almost guaranteed to be disappointing. Frankly, there aren’t a lot of movies out right now that are on “our list” to see as soon as possible. So it was doubly rewarding, given that we only saw one preview during the past few months, that we enjoyed Greta so much.
Greta has several key elements of suspense covered. A madwoman, stalking a trusting young girl with mommy AND daddy issues, not to mention a free-spirited roommate who’s bound to cause trouble; close-up camera shots that set your spine tingling with apprehension of the reveal – someone in the dark just off screen about to pounce; slow acting poison leading to sequences that make you feel as if you’ve been drugged along with the victim; and of course, bone-headed decision making in the face of certain doom. “You’re not seriously going into the dark basement, are you?”
The title role of Greta Hideg is played by little (5 foot 2) Isabelle Huppert, a French actress, who, interestingly, plays the part of a psychopath pretending to be French. If you find yourself wondering, “Where have I seen her before?” you’re not alone. Her resume is comprised mostly of French cinematic titles but she’s had a role on Law & Order: SVU and of all things Heaven’s Gate. Being mysterious helps her to…be mysterious.
Her victim is Frances McCullen, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, a very busy young actress who appeared in The Equalizer, the Carrie remake, and most recently, 2018's Suspiria. She has an innocent look that makes you cringe when she’s being stalked or doing stupid things. You want to give her parental advice, but remember, she has issues.
Fortunately for Frances, her roommate Erica, played by Maika Monroe turns out to be the best thing in her life, despite many early indications to the contrary. Throughout Greta, it seems Erica is going to wind up being an unintended victim.
Without getting too far into the weeds, Frances finds an abandoned purse on a subway train and decides to return it to its rightful owner, a seemingly nice French lady who invites her in for tea. Oh, the lost & found was conveniently closed, and apparently Frances doesn’t follow guidance we all know by now to alert the police about abandoned parcels or bags. The trap is set, sprung and the prey is easily captured.
And that’s where Greta ratchets up the suspense. Early in the film Frances becomes aware that she has been trapped, and she gets away! Repeatedly! She soon discovers, in the most glaring way that Greta is completely insane, but also very good at being a predator.
This nail-biting ride delivers multiple times, with unforeseen and completely satisfying results. And it’s interesting that Chloe Grace Moretz has Carrie in her portfolio. Unfortunately, her character doesn’t benefit from that experience, since the “Carrie Effect” is at work here as well. If you don’t know the reference, go see the movie.
Greta(2018) runs 1 hour, 39 minutes and is rated R.