Greta (2018) Movie Review

By: Christian Harding (Three Beers) –

Huh. Well, that wasn’t what I was expecting.
For those of you who desperately miss the “stalker” thriller craze that reached its height during the late 80’s through roughly the mid 90’s, which consisted of films like Fatal Attraction, Single White Female, and countless others, then boy howdy do I have a pleasant surprise for you! But for the rest of you who saw the trailer for Neil Jordan’s Greta and thought you’d be treated to a more calculated, elegant style of modern thriller, then I’m sad to report that this is – well, not that. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the film is without merit. Just… different.
A Toast
The plot of Greta is built on a chance encounter where young college grad Frances (played by Chloe Grace Moretz, giving this almost impossibly naive character a much needed sympathetic edge), having just moved from Boston to New York City, finds a lost purse on a subway train and takes it upon herself to return the item to its owner, much to the disapproval of her roommate. From there, she meets the titular Greta (a reliably unhinged Isabelle Huppert) and forms an immediate bond with the older French piano teacher, which goes from sweet to toxic very fast, and forms the basis for much of the melodrama and terror which soon follows.

Beer Two

Whereas many of the individual elements of Greta are completely serviceable and well polished – the acting, directing, pacing, etc are all more or less up to par – there is regrettably one core aspect to the film which almost completely sinks it single-handedly, and that’s the screenplay. Good lord, how did it ever see the light of day? While I have no proof or confirmation of what I’m about to assume here, what this film feels like is like an old 90’s screenplay in the style of the aforementioned “stalker” thriller craze was just sitting around on a shelf for decades, but then somehow managed to get rediscovered, dusted off, and given a modern update, and then it miraculously got some serious talent attached, because the level of care given to this sometimes impossibly moronic writing was not what it deserved. Credit to the cast and crew for giving this project their all, despite what they had to work with. Total professionals, all around.

Beer Three

With the screenplay being what it was, Greta is therefore littered with a number of dumb, turgid horror cliches from decades past. So much so, that last year’s The Nun is starting to become envious. A number of these tired tropes seem curiously leftover from the pre-Scream era of 90’s horror-thrillers, therefore bolstering my earlier theory of this script being a relic from a long forgotten Hollywood subgenre craze. These things include menacing calls from a landline (another curiously dated plot detail), the crass loud mouth best friend character that’s given their own extended chase scene, a pointless pet animal that only exists for a muted, would-be “shocking” payoff that’s as boring as it is toothless and totally predicable, and many others. Certain tropes on their own aren’t inherently a problem if they’re utilized in a fresh or unexpected way. But when you’re presented with this revolving door of tired genre cliches and are expected to take them 100% seriously as if you haven’t already seen them dozens of times before, it definitely numbs a lot of the impact of your film.

Verdict

At the end of the day, Greta probably isn’t the film many of us wanted or were even really expecting it to be. What seemed like something that was going to be a bit more foreboding and intellectual turned out to be a wholly cheese-filled 90’s throwback – and while there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that, you can’t help but consider the missed opportunity that this project was, especially given the talent involved. Here’s what you do; this reviewer saw the film opening night with two friends and a decent enough sized crowd, and spent the majority of the film commenting on the absurdity of the situation and back-talking some of the more wrong-headed decisions made by the characters. If that sounds up your alley, then go have a yourself a enjoyably silly time. And when it hits home video, make sure plenty of alcohol is involved as well. Anyone expecting this to have more value beyond the scenario I just described, then temper your expectations accordingly and try not to wonder too hard how this straight-to-DVD quality script managed to secure the acting and directing talent it did.

Greta (2018) Drinking Game

Do a Shot: for each WTF moment.

Do another Shot: whenever Isabelle Huppert dials the madness up to eleven.

One more Shot: when you finally lose all patience or sympathy with the situation, thanks to the revolving door of poor decisions made by these characters.

Shotgun a Beer: for the downright bizarre added detail to have the characters in the film still use a landline.

About MovieBoozer Staff

International Network of Volunteers, Movie Buffs, and Lushes. Movieboozer is a humor website and drinking games are intended for entertainment purposes only, please drink responsibly.

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