The best kind of horror is one that sneaks up on you and catches you by surprise. Attachment is exactly that. The first twenty minutes had me wondering if I had actually gotten the wrong link. Was I watching a romantic comedy? Sure as hell seemed like it. From the cute little meeting between Leah & Maja in the bookstore to the all night conversation that eventually led to an impassioned kiss. I truly felt like I was watching something other than the flick I expected. Then before I knew it, “bam”, the rug was pulled out from under me and I was neck-deep in Jewish Folklore. A subject I know very little about.
Before we get too deep though, let me give you a brief synopsis. The film begins with Leah (Ellie Kendrick), a grad student studying abroad in Denmark bumping into Maja (Josephine Park), an actress headed to entertain some kids in a bookstore. The two exchange awkward dialogue that leads to a date. That date leads to them falling in love. During a mysterious seizure, Leah injures her leg and is forced to return home to London. Not wanting to leave her alone, Maja accompanies her back to the flat she shares with her mother Chana (Sofie Grabol). Not sure if her mother’s troubling behavior is due to Leah & Maja’s unorthodox relationship or something more sinister, Maja digs deeper to find what dark secrets Chana might be hiding.
I feel like I don’t say this often but I really liked this movie. It was a huge change from the usual fare I watch and exactly what I needed. A fresh take on some older tropes. It was an awkwardly beautiful love story with something evil just out of sight lurking in the shadows. The believable performances by Kendrick and Park pulled me into their whirlwind “love at first sight” relationship and had me on the edge of my seat every time I felt Chana was trying to drive a wedge between them. Oh and I only have one thing to say about Grabol’s performance as Leah’s mother Chana. She was absolutely fantastic! Her strange behavior keeps you guessing and adds a ton of suspense to the mystery of the story unfolding. Is she a witch or just an overbearing mother that’s misunderstood? The way she played it gave me chills. I know by this point, you’re probably thinking “This is just another horror flick, nothing more.” and yes, this is essentially a possession film. The story of a Dybbuk to be more specific but it goes deeper than that. This is a story about the bonds of love and shows exactly what extreme lengths we as a people will go to save the ones we care about.
Coming into this, I had zero experience in the realm of Jewish Folklore but after viewing this movie I feel like I got a bit of an education. There’s so much to explore from Golems to Dybbuks and all the rituals in between and the potential hidden among those tales could be fodder for a ton of movies. I hope to see more directors dip into that well. Attachment is Gabriel Bier Gislason’s first attempt at a feature-length film and I must admit, I was quite impressed. A unique, imaginative story is a rarity in horror these days and he managed to hit it out of the park with this one. I can’t wait to see what Gislason has in store for the future.
Attachment is streaming on Shudder now.