“Cheri,” says elderly widow, Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert) to her new young friend, Frances McCullen (Chloe Grace Moritz). “Don’t call me that!” says Frances. “But you are my sweetheart,” Greta says. The two met when Frances returned a green leather handbag Greta left on a NYC subway, bringing it to Greta’s gloomy little house. “Come in for a cup of coffee,” Greta said. “Sure,” said unsuspecting Frances, “why not?” Now, things have gotten weird. Greta is a stalker and Frances does not want to see her again. “The crazier they are,” says Frances’ roommate Erica (Maika Monroe), “they never say ‘no’.” That’s the setup for Neil Jordan’s alleged thriller, “Greta.”
Does Greta continue to stalk Frances? And Erica, too? What does Greta want? Will you be entertained by this scare-free thriller? Not much, I think.
Chloe Grace Moritz and Isabelle Huppert do what they can with somewhat underwritten parts. About Frances, we know that she works in a high-end NYC restaurant and shares an apartment with her skeptical roommate Erica — played well by Maika Monroe. Erica’s been doubtful about Greta from the beginning. “She’ll eat you alive,” Erica says. Frances grieves for her mother, who died the previous year, and is separated from her father (Colm Feore). “You’re just mad at me because I found a way to move on,” he says. Widowed Greta was born in France; she has a daughter who studies in Paris. She plays the piano. She’s lonely. “The piano is my only company these days,” she tells Frances.
Others in the small cast include Thaddeus Daniels and Raven Dauda as New York City police officers who aren’t much help to Frances. Stephen Rea plays a private detective hired by Frances’ father to find his missing daughter.
“Greta,” co-written by director Neil Jordan (with Ray Wright), is clearly a “B” movie thriller. It’s the kind of movie in which characters make bad decisions smarter friends warn them about. “Call the bomb squad,” Erica says, even before Frances opens the abandoned handbag, looking for its owner’s address. Not only does Frances go to Greta’s spooky little house, she goes down into its basement. (We all know that’s a bad idea.) “Greta” has a few loud jump scares and a malevolent, little-old-lady villain, but not much else to generate a thrill or scare. In fact, the whole thing doesn’t make much sense.
Rated R for violence and disturbing images, “Greta” runs only 98 minutes, but it’ll seem a lot longer. I’d miss this one, if I were you.
Crazy old “Greta” —
She needs a friend.