You're the child. You need someone to love, you need a mother to hold you. You love someone and you're afraid to love.

Greta ( 2019 )

★★★★   |   Sept. 8, 2018

It's been six years since Neil Jordan was last on our screens, with the 2012 vampire film Byzantium. His latest offering, starring Isabelle Huppert as the eponymous Greta, premiered at the opening night of the Toronto International Film Festival and starts out as a psychological thriller before veering closer to the horror genre.

Frances (Moretz) has recently moved to Los Angeles, where her good nature is at odds with the city and those that inhabit it. Her roommate Erica (Monroe) tells her that the city will eat her alive. A chance encounter brings her to the home of the elderly Greta (Huppert), who readily invites her in to her home as if she's been waiting for her for some time. While Frances and Erica live in a spacious, bright Manhattan loft, Greta lives alone in a dark, cramped house, which she has frozen in time to commemorate her lost husband and estranged daughter. They forge a common bond through the recent death of Erica's mother combined with Greta's growing loneliness and isolation. As Frances begins to understand the true nature of Greta's affection, she tries to break off their relationship. However, this lights the spark of Greta's obsession, which grows and grows. She turns up at her work and stares at her from across the street. She accosts her on the metro and at home and demands a reconciliation. Frances receives little help from the authorities, who tell her that they don't have the resources to deal with her situation, and that she should simply "ignore her". As we move toward the film's climax, Greta's home, the centrepiece of the action, is transformed to a house of horrors.

Greta does require a significant suspension of disbelief from its viewers. A number of plot points are weak, including a completely inept police force and two twenty-somethings that still use a landline. Additionally, a number of very questionable choices by the leading characters threaten to topple it into teen slasher territory. However, it manages to overcome these shortcomings and thrills throughout. The pacing seems quite extreme in the beginning, but this ultimately gives way to an unexpected crescendo of grotesque absurdity. The movie benefits from a number of strong performances by its cast. Isabelle Huppert is superb as the unstable Greta, and Maika Monroe, as the headstrong and streetwise Erica, also stands out. Ultimately, this is a brilliantly bizarre and grotesque tale, which is well worth the watch.

Directed by
Neil Jordan
Starring
Isabelle Huppert
Chloe Grace Moretz
Maika Monroe
Colm Feore
Stephen Rea
Runtime: 98 minutes
Greta (2019) on IMDb