This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
Greta is one of those films where the whole plot is effectively about punishing someone for doing a good deed. It’s certainly a unique premise there although it also serves as a cautionary tale of why you should always do things through anonymous mail or something rather than going to the home of someone you’ve never met before.
The movie starts with introducing us to Frances who finds a handbag on the Subway one day. She decides to take it home and finds an ID in it for a lady named Greta along with a lot of money. Her roommate Erica says they should just spend the money but Frances wants to return it. The lost and found is closed so she goes in person. Greta is really happy to have had this returned and they end up swapping numbers. Before you know it, Frances and Greta are the best of friends. Erica tells Frances to watch out but the lead isn’t worried. Things take a turn when she sees that Greta has many other copies of the same purse with names on them. Could it be that this was a trap?
Not, it’s a horror film so of course Greta is as evil as possible but even if she wasn’t it’s true that Frances didn’t take a great many precautions. For starters, if you’re returning something from the Subway, you definitely should mail it or hand it to the local authorities to sort out. Bringing the purse on her own to a stranger in a house she’s never been to is absolutely not the right way to go about this. Even more I wouldn’t have given my phone number, that’s all you need to find someone’s address although as soon as Greta had the name that was game over as well.
For the record, returning the bag was naturally the right thing to do even if in the film that’s what got Frances. That said, you just need to give it to a third party or mail it anonymously. As Greta begins stalking Frances everywhere there was also one more scene that stood out to me because it didn’t make sense. So Frances knows that Greta is right outside waiting to tail her. She should leave with some of the other employees when it’s closing time right? Instead she is somehow all by herself when she leaves that night. I doubt they would only have one person closing for such a huge restaurant so how did she end up leaving all by herself after everyone else? It just seemed a little iffy to me considering that she knew how much danger she was in the whole time.
Greta the film also makes another misstep when the main villain adopts a dog. I think everyone knows exactly how this will end the instant that it happens and I was wincing over here. The film handles the end as painlessly as possible which is good but it’s absolutely an element that did not need to be in the film. Why throw in animal violence so randomly like this?
Greta also doesn’t make for the most imposing villain since she is quite old after all. It’s hard to see how she is moving so quickly when chasing Erica. Either Erica also has very poor eyesight or Greta is just that agile. At times there is no place to hide when looking around so that’s one of those scenes where it’s there for the scares but doesn’t make sense.
The other scene that’s particularly iffy is when a private agent goes to scout out Greta’s place and she naturally takes him on with ease. She’s literally dancing around the bullets as if she’s a superhuman fighter while he is getting completely embarrassed. Yeah he got drugged but the whole thing was definitely not a good look for him. It’s not surprising though since you know exactly how his character arc will end the instant he appears.
So you can’t really take Greta seriously and since she is really just insane and barely has a motivation there isn’t much to her. Her goal may be to have another daughter on the outside but really from how she’s acting you can tell that’s a hollow goal and she just wants chaos. I wasn’t a big fan of Frances either though. She really should have at least listened to Erica a bit. I also thought she should have done way better against Greta. We see a montage suggesting she was captured for quite a while and played the role of dutiful daughter until she finally made a move. I’d argue she should have attacked sooner.
Still, at least she attacked and got in a rather solid blow. Frances needed to finish the job there or at least put Greta in a state where she would be unable to fight back. Instead Frances gives Greta her back as she wanders around and gets taken out. In a way this is a horror film that harkens back to the old days where the main characters always made a lot of questionable decisions leading to it being known as a trope in the first place.
Erica is easily the best character in the film. She may be a bit harsh at times but she does look out for Frances. She was also ready to square up against Greta if not for a speeding car that arrived at the last minute. She took a lot of risks in the climax of the film as well. Ultimately she was the only character who could actually give Greta a run for her money. Her bravery alone is enough to make her a solid character and I think the film probably would have gone a lot differently if she had been the lead.
Overall, Greta is one of those horror films where you can see all the story beats coming a mile away. Predictability isn’t a bad thing when they’re good story beats but this film is far from it. Greta’s certainly a very deranged villain who has been in the game for quite a while so the whole situation is rather tragic the more you think about it. She doesn’t seem all that strong physically though so I would have liked to have seen Frances make more of an attempt to escape or fight back more throughout the movie. Her friend Erica was definitely great though and we do get one of those classic horror twist endings to set up the sequel. It makes Frances look pretty bad again though. I definitely would not recommend this one and you should keep looking if you want a solid horror thriller.