greta | neil jordan | ray wright | isabelle huppert | chloe grace moretz | maika monroe | kidnap | drama | mystery | thriller | ireland | united states | jane perry | jeff hiller | parker sawyers | brandon lee sears | arthur lee | rosa escoda | jessica preddy
Director: Neil Jordan
Writer: Ray Wright and Neil Jordan
Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz and Maika Monroe
This was a film that I was quite intrigued to check out when I saw the trailer before another film. I am fan of Chloë Grace Moretz, especially since she has been doing horror since she started acting back in The Amityville Horror. She has literally grown up before my eyes as that film came out the year I graduated high school. To get into this review, the official synopsis is a young woman befriends a lonely widow who’s harboring a dark and deadly agenda towards her.
We start off on a subway where Frances McCullen (Chloë Grace Moretz) finds a handbag. She picks it up and checks it to find an ID for a Greta Hideg. She takes it home. It is there that her roommate, Erica Penn (Maika Monroe), tells her that she should take the money and forget it. Frances decides she is going to return it instead.
Greta (Isabelle Huppert) is elated when Frances shows up. She invites her in and gives her coffee. While they are talking, we hear a noise that Greta states is the neighbors who are remodeling. Greta plays the piano while they talk and Frances can see she is just a lonely woman. Her husband has passed away and her daughter is studying in Paris. Frances offers to go with her to get a dog to help with her loneliness.
The two spend a lot of time together and this bothers Erica. Her roommate is concerned as Frances’ mother passed away and Erica believes that Frances is clinging to this older woman as kind of a surrogate. This bothers Frances, but it isn’t completely untrue. Her father is Chris (Colm Feore) and she is kind of estranged from him as it sounds like he has moved on when she hasn’t.
Things take a dark turn when Frances finds other handbags like the one she found. One has another woman’s name and phone number on it. She also finds a similar one with her information on it. Frances decides to cut her off and just move on, but Greta isn’t having it. She stalks Frances and there’s nothing she can do to stop it, as Greta isn’t breaking any laws. It gets even darker the more that Frances does to get away and the more she learns about the truth of the woman she let into her life.
I do have to admit that this film really intrigued me. The concept isn’t something new, but what I did enjoy about it is that we normally don’t see an all female cast of leads for it. There is normally a male that is doing the stalking and physically he is scary. This film takes a different approach with Huppert and I dug it. Later in the film we learn that she is a former nurse, so that negates the need for the physical size. What makes this interesting as well though, Erica gives advice to Frances as if Greta was a guy she’s having trouble getting to take the hint that it’s over. That makes for an interesting dynamic that Greta does take on the role that is normally reserved for men in films like this.
The other dimension with Greta is the motherly instinct about her. She is searching out for lost souls in the big city of New York. Frances falls into this trap, because her mother has died. I did find it interesting that they have her from Boston, because she doesn’t have an accent and she came from another big city. I almost feel like this film would have been better served to have her from a more rural area where the people are even more trusting. Regardless though, I love that Greta is a predator that is preying on the insecurities of Frances and the missing part of her life.
I’ve kind of already touched on that Frances is too trusty. I do like that Erica is the headstrong friend. It sounds like she has grown up in the city. She does come from money though, which is interesting that she isn’t more naïve as well. She comes off as a bitch at first, but I think that’s good. When things escalate, we see that she is right. As a male it is hard for me to put myself in the shoes of a woman in knowing her daily plight. Seeing how things play out, I can’t blame women for being more like Erica to protect herself.
The build-up of all of this is solid as well. I did think that the film was paced quite well and moves through things at a good clip. I never found myself bored, which is a good thing. I think that the stalking escalates at a realistic pace and the dread of knowing that no matter what Frances does, Greta is going to be there. The film does have a dream sequence that at first absolutely made me irate. The film recovers from it, but I don’t think it was needed. I get why they did it afterwards, but I don’t think it really adds much to the film. I did like the ending and how things play out. There were two endings I would have been fine with. How this ends is the better version of the lesser ending I had in my head.
Acting for this film was really strong as well. I thought Huppert brings an interesting feel to the role. She pretends to be from France, but we learn later that she is actually from Hungary. Her accent did seem to be off to me with the words she was speaking. I like that grief has turned her into this factitious character for sure. Moretz is great as usual. She comes off as so naïve and just looking for someone to take her mother’s place emotionally. I did like seeing her as she stands up when she is burned. Her character at the ending is quite interesting as well. Monroe is someone that I really wish would do more, because everything I’ve seen her in I’ve been a fan of. I love that she comes off so harsh in the film, but she is right. Her character doesn’t have an arch, but it doesn’t need one. She is the rock there to help Frances. I would say that the rest of the cast round out the film for what was needed as well.
As for the effects of the film, there weren’t really a whole lot. It didn’t need them though, since this film is more about the stalking and dread that comes with that. We do get some scenes where people are drugged so we get to see how they are as the drug takes effect. I think that is a smart move to make it more realistic. The film was shot beautifully as well, especially during the scenes where Greta is hiding while following people. It definitely adds a dimension by putting us into what she is seeing.
Finally I want to briefly talk about the score. This film has a focus on classical music, especially being played on the piano. We get ambient music when Greta is playing and she is constantly putting music on as well. Her daughter is supposed to be studying in Paris and we learn that part of this psychosis is teaching someone to play as well. It isn’t a genre I listen to often, but it fits for this film. We also get some other selections that help to ramp up the tension when needed.
Now with that said, this film has an interesting take on a story we’ve seen before. I like the idea of all three women are leads when normally a man would be a villain in a film like this. I thought the acting was great; we have three solid characters here. I thought the story was paced well, but there were some aspects that we didn’t need. One of which really got under my skin to be honest. There’s not in a way of effects, but the film was shot very well. The score was solid and fitting for what was needed. I think that this film is above average to almost good. If not for one sequence, I probably would have come in higher, but I would recommend giving this one a viewing.
My Rating: 8 out of 10