Why ‘Greta’ is the first truly bad movie of 2018

Let’s say you find an abandoned purse on a train. You can either pick it up and return it, or leave it for the forgotten to be retrieved by its forgetful owner. Frances McCullen (Chloe Grace Moretz) should have chosen the latter.

The tagline of Neil Jordan’s new film, Greta, tells you all that you need to know about this movie. “Don’t take the bait” should read more plainly, “don’t even think about seeing this movie.” This movie is terrible. I’m talking cold Chinese food left out in the St. Louis summer heat terrible. Avoid it like the plague.

The sweet and naive Frances returns the purse to Greta (Isabelle Huppert), who looks like bad news the moment we lay eyes on her. A pair of wounded birds who should have never met, but will drown us in misery for 93 minutes that YOU will never get back.

There’s a lot of unintentional humor here. The Internet Movie Database page classifies this film as a drama, horror, and mystery film, so I am sure Jordan and co-screenwriter Ray Wright didn’t intend for the audience to laugh. There were a lot of laughs: the kind of belly-bloated occurrences when you spit up your drink at the sight of something so ludicrous that you wish the option to rewrite the film was left open to the public.

Here is a movie where you will scream at the screen for the less-than-wise characters to not do that, or please resist doing this. It happens for the second half of the film, when Frances continuously fails to evade the dark charms of a woman with sinister intentions. It’s not uncommon for an audience member to see things going in a wrong direction before the characters do-sometimes that is the filmmaker’s design-but I wouldn’t place Greta in that category.

I’m afraid Jordan wrote this while on a bender or under the influence of drugs far more powerful than one can find in the store. If I ever have the opportunity to ask him, I will just say one word: “Why?”

At one point, a character takes a rolling pin and hits another with it, proceeding to drop the weapon and run. The only problem is she runs to every possible spot that you shouldn’t. The door that needs a key! The basement, where one can be easily trapped! Why not find the nearest window, break it, and escape? Also, pick the rolling pin back up and hit the person seven more times just to make sure they don’t sneak up on you.

Are you beginning to understand my troubles? Do you get my drift? I am trying to help you, movie addicts. Consider me your neighborhood movie lover who just strapped on a cinematic bulletproof vest to take this gigantic stink bomb of a bullet for you. You’re welcome.

If I had paid for this movie, I’d demand my money back. I’d write a Congressman. Message the nearest theater and warn them. Place a warm bag of dog excrement next to the poster.

For those of you thinking I am being unfair to the filmmaker, let me remind you of something very cool. It is my job to be bluntly honest with you on the quality of a film. Advisement is key here. I owe it to a filmmaker to understand what they were going for without feeling pity for them. After all, Neil Jordan gets to make movies for a living. This bomb reminded me of a more ambitious film called The Crying Game that he did many, many years ago. Old pal Stephen Rea even shows up here as a hapless detective up to no good.

Moretz and Huppert are fine actresses, but they will rightfully be nominated for Razzie awards. The acting is that bad, so outrageously bad that I thought this was a parody and Ashton Kutcher was going to step out from behind the screen and yell, “you’ve been punk’d!” Nope.

Writing. Directing. Acting. Producing. All bad. I wonder if the crew got to eat cheap frozen pizzas on the set so the quality of food matched the product.

If you were thinking about seeing Greta, please rethink that notion. Don’t even breathe in its direction. For my St. Louis readers walking up to the box office at Plaza Frontenac, choose Mads Mikkelsen’s Arctic instead. That is the polar (no pun intended, Mads) opposite of this film when it comes to effectiveness.

Thanks for nothing, Neil Jordan.

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