Entertainment Movies Greta brings the fun back to thrillers
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Greta brings the fun back to thrillers

Chloe Grace Moretz in Greta
"I love how this film subverts the genre," said Chloe Grace Moretz (in Greta.) Photo: Focus Features
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Greta, starring French Oscar nominee Isabelle Huppert as the eponymous creepy stalker who becomes obsessed with Chloë Grace Moretz’s waitress Frances, is a ridiculously daft thriller.

It’s also ridiculously good fun, something that’s been largely absent from the genre for too long.

Directed and co-written by Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan – who delivered memorable Oscar winner The Crying Game and also the Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt-led adaptation of Interview with the VampireGreta’s set-up is a hoot.

Elle star Huppert’s lonely piano teacher is a widow who loves tea and lives in a quaint New York home.

But along with her empathetic, gentle side, she’s also menacing. Greta’s thing is she entraps naïve young women by leaving green handbags containing her ID all over Manhattan, and laying in wait for the good souls who return them to her.

The similarity to fairytale wicked witches is clear.

Greta shares this dark tradition with the once super-popular, female-led thrillers of the 1980s and 1990s, films that allowed game actresses to cut loose and chew the scenery with maniacal turns as horrifying as they were hilarious.

Think bunny boiler Glenn Close in 1987’s Fatal Attraction, or 1992’s deliriously diabolical double dip with Rebecca De Mornay’s predatory nanny in The Hand that Rocks the Cradle and Jennifer Jason Leigh as the world’s worst flatmate in Single White Female.

Smartly, Greta subtly re-tools the concept by more or less ditching the blokes, adding It Follows breakout star Maika Monroe as Rachel’s worldly wise flatmate Erica.

Packed with instantly meme-able, OTT moments, Greta’s campest moment comes when, impeccably Chanel-suited and in killer high heels, she rocks up for dinner at Frances’ restaurant.

First hurling a wine glass at the waitress, the older woman then upends the table and goes for her, arms flailing. The resulting battle royale leads to the movie’s most jaw-dropping guffaw.

And just like Bridget Fonda in Single White Female and Annabella Sciorra in Cradle, an initially doe-eyed Frances fights back once she gets wise.

Maika Monroe Chloe Grace Moretz
Maika Monroe and Moretz team up. Photo: Focus Features

For all the black humour in these outrageous thrillers, they have a tragic heart in common too.

Old photos hint at Greta’s loss, though the truth is more complicated.

Frances is estranged from her father after the recent death of her mother, with the implication being Greta has been watching her closely before the bag drop occurs, like a changeling figure seeking to supplant Frances’s mum.

Mostly we’re here for a wickedly good time, but one that also haunts. As Keith Uhlich at The Hollywood Reporter says, “The resulting craziness is quite delightful to behold in the moment and to reflect on after.”

The closest comparison recently would be Bridesmaids director Paul Feig’s devilishly twisty turns in A Simple Favour, allowing Blake Lively’s impeccably coutured crook to pull the wool over Anna Kendrick’s unsuspecting vlogger to increasingly unhinged effect.

The key? These soap opera-tinged thrillers know they’re mad and brilliantly bad. They’re a sly wink.

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