Have you ever watched a film and realised that the trailer spoils a huge plot point? Well ‘Greta’ did that for me. I watched the trailer at the cinema and I must admit I was slightly intrigued, but after seeing the film I was really shocked at just how badly my enjoyment was reduced by knowing the first big reveal in the script. If you have seen the trailer, you will know what I mean. Greta is a disturbed individual, and the trailer tells us that. If it hadn’t told us that, then as an audience member, we may have allowed a little more time to immerse ourselves in the story. Nearly the whole first act is ruined and the reason I am highlighting this problem is that a film like ‘Greta’ needs a slow burning first act to build tension and surprise us later.
Both Chloë Grace Moretz, as Frances, and Isabelle Huppert, as Greta do a fine job in the first half hour. However, we are never allowed to be taken in by the plot as it has been so horribly thrown in our faces by the advertising. If the film had allowed itself a little more time to breathe we would have had more empathy for Greta and felt more invested in the actual set up. Instead we are slapped around the head by a telegraphed twist that I can only assume was a desperate attempt by the producers to try and sell a few more tickets.
Neil Jordan, the director, should have stuck to his guns and explored the character of Greta in much more detail, letting little moments of back story and motivation trickle through the script, slowly alerting us to the real danger that Frances was in but that actual depth of story telling is given the elbow quite early on. There is no tension so we don’t care and by the last act everything has gotten so ridiculous that we are neither scared, anxious or threatened by anything that is happening. Huppert goes full mental jacket, and the script has thrown away any semblance of a structure with supporting cast members arriving, delivering the relevant information, then disappearing again.
‘Greta’ suffers from too little substance and it’s a shame because the idea is a good one, but it’s been done before and with more conviction. Had things been allowed to simmer a little longer, and had we not been telegraphed the information in the trailers, clips and reviews, then it may have given itself a fighting chance, but it was all so obvious that we are left with a boring production that felt tired and overstretched right out of the gate. Imagine watching ‘Psycho’, and the first thing we see is Norman dragging his mother’s corpse into the basement before turning on the Bates Motel sign. There’s a reason Hitchcock was the master of suspense.
Written by Louie Fecou
Rating – 4/10
Question: What is your favourite campy thriller?
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