Greta achieves that unsettling, nervous feeling one gets when you believe you are being followed. Director and co-writer Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Interview With the Vampire) was able to capture a single feeling and amp it up, rarely leaving a comfortable moment throughout, demanding that the audience to keep looking, even if the suspense is too much to bear. Isabelle Huppert and Chloë Grace Moretz nail the creepy chemistry, which drives the tension. Only hampered by some questionable story and design choices, Greta is an impressive stalker movie that is not for the faint of heart.
Frances McCullen (Moretz), is a waitress in Manhattan. One night on the subway she comes across a purse, and being the good-hearted woman that she is, decides to return the purse to its owner, Greta Hideg (Huppert). Frances ends up getting close with Greta, as Frances is still feeling the pain of losing her mother and is craving a similar presence in her life. One night, as the new friends are making dinner, Frances stumbles upon a cabinet full of bags, each labeled with a different woman’s name. Feeling that something is off, Frances enlists the help of her roommate, Erica (Maika Monroe), to fend off Greta and her unorthodox methods of “keeping in touch.”
Moretz and Huppert hold nothing back in presenting their characters’ emotions; when Frances discovers the bags, she telegraphs her overwhelming sense of dread. The (initially) calm and collected Greta is eerie and distressing, constantly giving the audience a reason to cover their eyes.
Jordan uses the camera and lighting to his advantage, continuously creating tension in scenes that otherwise would not have any. He succeeds at putting the viewer in Frances’ shoes, inviting one to share in her frustration when she’s being stalked across New York and no one is doing anything to help her. Frances contacts the police, and they brush her off with paperwork that will take months to file. Greta consistently attends the restaurant where Frances works, and the management tells their terrified employee to “deal with it, and don’t make a scene.” All of this seems normal compared to the “slow fade” advice Frances receives from her roommate as a means of escape.
When it is all said and done, Greta is an impressive exploration of what it feels like to be followed and terrorized on a daily basis. And despite some wildly convenient or otherwise implausible moments, Greta succeeds at raising heart rates until the absolute end, only providing a few moments of relief throughout.