Greta movie review: Girls trap

Tea time… of TERROR!
Credit: Jonathan Hession / Focus Features
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Greta is the serious arthouse version of Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach. That’s the one where Commandant Lassard switches luggage with the bad guys. Chloe Grace Moretz is the Lassard who picks up the wrong bag in this version.

Frances McCullen (Moretz) picks up a lost purse on the subway and returns it to Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert). At first, Greta seems like a good maternal figure, considering Frances has recently lost her mom.

Don’t fall for the old “you found my bag on the subway, let’s be friends” trick. Credit: Shane Mahood / Focus Features

Greta turns out to be as too good to be true as the New York apartment Frances and roommate Erica (Maika Monroe) can afford to live in. Frances finds Greta’s stash of purses she leaves on subways to make new friends. They’re even organized by the names of the people who found them.

So Frances recognizes the red flags and tries to ghost Greta, but Greta won’t be ignored. There are some good ideas for suspense sequences but the execution is ridiculous.

What could have been 21st century tension just plays as ridiculous. Credit: Shane Mahood / Focus Features

When Greta texts Frances pictures of Erica out at a bar, that’s creepy. And Greta seems to be everywhere no matter where Erica runs, but the pictures end up looking more silly than invasive.

Other ideas are just bad to begin with, like a whole sequence that turns out to be a dream, only no, waking up was just a dream and the dream was actually real. Musical stingers make every creepy Greta scene so over the top it’s absurd.

Isabelle Huppert IS Greta
Credit: Jonathan Hession / Focus Features

Vivaldi plays when Greta has an outburst in the restaurant where Frances is a waitress, a restaurant whose maitre’d won’t kick Greta out because she had a reservation. Well, now, if she has a reservation, you’re just going to have to let her sit and stalk Frances while she eats.

All the dialogue feels like first draft placeholders. Frances tells Erica, “Why didn’t I listen to you?” I mean, because there’d be no movie if she had.

Why didn’t Frances (Chloe Grace Moretz) just listen to Erica (Maika Monroe)? Nobody listens to Erica. Credit: Shane Mahood / Focus Features

When Greta starts stalking Erica, Frances tells her, “No, you leave Erica out of this.” Has that ever worked in a movie when the bad guy threatened an innocent bystander and the hero insists that they leave the third party out of this?

The crazier Greta gets, the more it seems like Huppert doesn’t even buy it. She’s not relishing the campy psycho villain of it all.

Greta (Isabelle Huppert) takes it beyond stalking. Credit: Jonathan Hession / Focus Features

It’s too bad Greta is such a failure, because I miss this genre. It had its heyday in the ‘90s with “___ from hell” movies.

Nanny from Hell was the best, but roommate from Hell and cop from Hell were solid, and even neighbor from Hell, tenant from Hell and landlord’s daughter from Hell did their jobs. Mother figure from Hell is negligent in its parent from hell duties.

Greta is now in theaters.

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