Cast is great; movie not so much.
Director: Neil Jordan (The Crying Game)
Screenplay: Jordan, Ray Wright (The Crazies)
Cast: Isabelle Huppert (Eva), Chloe Grace Moretz (Suspiria)
Runtime: 1 hr 35 min
By: John DeSando
“The city’s going to eat you alive.” Erica (Maika Monroe)
When is a horror film, Greta, a comedy? When elite writer-director Neil Jordan decides to play with the genre and comment on the fractured relationships of modern mothers and daughters.
When Jordan did an award-winning thriller, The Crying Game, in 1992, he stylishly mixed politics and sexuality; in his current Greta, he once again takes on a social issue and wraps it in a thriller bow. How does young Franky (Chloe Grace Moretz), in NYC after graduation, refuse the friendship of an older woman, Greta, who initially seems like a benevolent friend, even mother substitute, when she’s a psychotic stalker? Very quickly refuse, if Frances can.
As Erica again warns, “The crazier they are, the harder they cling.”
Jordan lards his wicked piece of entertainment with a hidden room, creepy piano, and a naive young woman, among the many tropes that cry out for laughs or shudders depending on your horror index. At the beginning, Greta seems a sophisticated older elite who just happens to have a few screws loose as well as missing relatives.
It’s not that we have an idea of what’s to come, for it has all been done before in the too-conventional way, but happily not by Interview with a Vampire’s talented director. Jordan mixes the macabre with the mirthful, sometimes to confuse the tone, especially for those not used to a blend of horror, humor, and thriller. Otherwise, it’s easy to guess what’s coming once Great’s described as sticking around “like chewing gum.”
As for the mother-daughter theme, better leave that one alone because Jordan telegraphs it regularly while Frances laments the loss of her mother and Greta, well, maybe not so much her daughter. As for Jordan alumnus Stephen Rea, nice to know ya! And Frances’s Dad, Chris (Colm Feore), almost a cameo with enough concern to help assuage our anger that he a daughter have not gotten along since her mother’s death.
I guess that relationship qualifies for daddy issues. No end to motifs when a gifted director decides to get smart with a couple of old genres. Fun and fright await the audience, but then for those who ride the NY subway system, not much can out scare the experienced.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com