Greta may fall under traditional trappings of the stalker genre. However, it does attempt to distinct itself from other films within that genre by heavily focusing on the female gaze. Typically, these films involve a crazy woman in pursuit of a male protagonist with the only exceptions that come to mind being Single White Female and its clone, The Roommate. But Greta, which involves an older woman terrorizing a younger woman, proves to be another exception. In addition, it boasts a killer leading performance as Isabelle Huppert.
As the titular antagonist, Isabelle Huppert is insanely chilly with a touch of dark humor. Even with just a glance, she can send you into complete paralysis. Also, her small glances are able to give us a glimpse into Greta’s empty, tortured psyche. It’s clear Greta’s a lonely woman but it’s unclear what exactly makes her tick. Why is Greta so insane? How could being so lonely cause her to do such heinous things? Well, that is a bit of a mystery but Huppert still quietly presents her with a hollow interior to capture her mystique. Huppert never wastes a single frame when she appears on screen and she’s easily what holds the film together.
However, the same can’t be said for her co-star Chloe Grace Moretz. As Frances, the object of Greta’s affection, Moretz doesn’t allow her character to fully come to life. Maybe it’s due to her character being underwritten. But her performance never goes beyond playing a protagonist who’s mainly sympathetic because she’s the one being terrorized. The only development we really get from her character is that she has particular parental problems. Other than that, there are no dimensions to be found.
That being said, Maika Monroe, who plays Frances’ close friend Erica, manages to be a standout. Her character is a bit of a cliche, serving as the concerned best friend who tries convincing the protagonist to not get involved with the crazy person. But Monroe still infuses her role with a fair amount of charisma. Plus, she still has more to do than Zawe Ashton who you might recall from Velvet Buzzsaw earlier this year. However, in this, Ashton appears in only one scene. Also, Stephen Rea, a frequent collaborator of director Neil Jordan, doesn’t appear until the climax.
Despite Greta falling under tired machinations within its genre, writer/director Neil Jordan still allows some comical self-awareness to take place. Particularly, when the police do such a poor job at protecting Frances from Greta to the point where Frances keeps calling them out for their incompetence.
In addition, Jordan creates some standout sequences to make Greta an effective film-watching experience. For instance, there’s a scene where Greta stalks Erica across New York City. As Greta follows her, she keeps taking photos of Erica and sending them to Frances. As Erica keeps looking behind her while she’s on the move, Greta is repeatedly out of sight. For the duration of that sequence, you just keep wondering if the worst is going to happen to Erica since she’s being watched so closely and is alone. Also, the best friends in these types of movies don’t always fare well.
All in all, Greta proves to be a typical schlocky stalker thriller. However, Isabelle Huppert still knocks it out of the park and is easily the main reason to buy a ticket. Much like the main character, you just can’t get rid of Greta.