The irony was not lost on me this past weekend as I made my way into the theater and the only other audience member was an elderly woman with a black bag was there for the first viewing of Greta that afternoon. I haven’t had such an occurrence mirror a movie I planned on viewing that day in all my years of going to the movies. Thankfully my venture to theater was far tamer than Frances meeting with Greta. This did not relive the tension on the screen nor the fear or disbelief from watching the events of the film unfold before me. Despite all the clues lying within Greta to piece together, the mystery lurking within the celluloid is still a must see for fans of horror and thrillers alike regardless of its campy nature.
Upon discovering a bag left on the subway, Frances McCullen’s (Chloë Grace Moretz) immediate reaction is to turn in the bag to lost and found. After all, a driver’s license is inside so the subway can locate the owner of the purse. With the booth appearing closed upon departure from the train, Frances takes the bag home with her. After debating whether they should keep items from the bag should or return the bag, Frances determines in her heart returning the bag is the right thing to do. Against Erica Penn’s (Maika Monroe), her roommate, advice Frances decides to deliver the bag to Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert) at her home. While at first the budding friendship between the two appears to file a void for both Frances and Greta, unbeknownst to Frances there’s something deeply wrong with Greta.
While in some ways viewers will be in familiar territory with the film’s narrative, in many other ways the film is remarkably fresh. Not many films focus on the female in an antagonistic role. What makes this absolutely brilliant is that no one truly suspects anything is wrong with Greta. She’s merely a sweet older woman longing for companionship. There’s even a character within the film that refers to Greta as a “sweet old woman.” The cliches that looks can be deceiving and not to judge a book by its cover come into play throughout the film. Why would someone not believe Greta though initially? I can understand why Frances desired a friendship with the older woman. After all, we all need friends and in her case she needs someone willing to grant her their maternal instincts.
Greta proves to us all that no good deed goes unpunished. In many ways the film reminds us that sometimes our instincts are wrong. Should we ignore the part of us that insists on trusting each other? We have truly gotten to a point in society where we cannot trust anyone. Paranoia runs deep within us now. Should paranoia run that deep in us all though? I understand knowing our surroundings and how important it is for us all to be cautious, but we cannot live our lives in constant fear and suspicion of everyone around us. There’s many harmless people in the world. We should trust them because ultimately we must faith not all people are serial killers or will hold us captive in their basement somewhere.
Until the very end viewers are unsure of exactly how Greta will end and even as the camera focuses on the last image of the film audiences witness we still debate if it’s all really over. The ending of Greta is one that viewers want to happen but because of other horror films make us believe we will not get our wish. The killer always comes back for one last scare according to its predecessors and in many ways we apply this logic to Greta. When the credits rolled I could not help but feel that more lurked around the corner. Thankfully no jumps scares are attempted in the credits, but the film does teeter on making movie goers wonder if it is all really over.
The acting within the feature is delightful. Mortez provides a perfect naive performance. However, she portrayed Frances in a way that many people would react to Greta. Although maybe her reaction to be a good samartian appears normal to me because that’s how I would have reacted. Huppert makes me want to know more about her character. Ultimately audiences knows when the character snaps into her current behavior, but there’s still more intrigue of discovering why she truly reacted the way she did. After all, Greta has some deep seeded issues that Greta never saw anyone about earlier on in life. She makes this abundantly clear every chance she can making audiences beg for answers not even the character can give us by the end of the film.
Ultimately Greta reminds us all how important mental health is and why we take care of ourselves. In many ways it is also a precautionary tale that we also need to remain cautious. People truly need to earn our trust these days instead of us willing giving it to them without a second thought because sometimes there’s more than meets the eye. While initial instincts might not kick in right away, we must also take care of ourselves. Toxic friendships can and do exist and although we might not want to believe we are in one this does not change the fact it happens to all. We just have to remember at the end of the day that we all deserve more.