Possession Horror Meets Meet-Cute Romance in Attachment (FANTASTIC)
First Non-Festival Release: TBD
Director: Gabriel Bier Gislason
Writer: Gabriel Bier Gislason
Runtime: 105 Minutes
Starring: Josephine Park, Sofie Gråbøl, Ellie Kendrick
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
This film’s review was written after its screening at the Fantastic Film Festival in 2022.
Maja (Josephine Park) is running late to work as a character actor in a children’s library when she literally runs into Leah (Ellie Kendrick), a Jewish PhD student from London. The two hit it off quickly and spend the remainder of Leah’s days inside Maja’s apartment. An unusual seizure prompts Leah to return home but they both agree Maja should join her. They settle in and Maja meets Leah’s mother, Chana (Sofie Gråbøl), a fussy and overprotective woman. Through a series of terrifying events, Maja learns why Chana holds such a protective hand above her daughter.
A meet-cute leads to serviceable demonic thrills in Attachment, a thoughtful queer, Jewish horror romance.
Relationships are prioritized in Attachment, and the specific connections each has to one another drives the story along more than the plot itself. They are intertwined, much like the title suggests. Leah and Chana have the typical over-protective mother-loving daughter relationship. Maja and Leah have the whirlwind romance that develops into something stronger. Maja and Chana, however, have the most interesting relationship, one where they both realize they will do anything to protect Leah, and begrudgingly work together to do it. It just comes to life in different ways as the film progresses. These dynamics help shape the film and make for excellent moments of tension.
Additionally, it is always nice to see positive queer relationships in horror where their identities are not the sole purpose of the terror consuming them. Attachment doesn’t neglect to highlight tension that Maja and Leah encounter, but overt homophobia and clunky symbolism is thrown out the window.
Balancing a variety of competing tones including touching, unsettling, and comedic, Attachment has plenty to offer and say regarding the power of relationships and community. Maja comes into Leah’s life in a tumultuous chapter. She is still at home while pursuing her studies and she is experiencing terrible seizures. When Maja agrees to accompany her to London, she does so without concern of how awkward it may be. Her commitment to Leah supersedes the unpleasantness that comes with being an outsider. And the status of outsider is immediately felt by Maja. From Leah’s mother to the Jewish community members working various shops, Maja doesn’t quite fit in and she knows it. Eventually, she embraces this feeling to support Leah, and this gets reciprocated when it counts. The messaging in Attachment can be sad considering the ending, however, there is a lot of hope found in the steadfast approach to love.
The cast does a great job bringing their characters and community alive. David Dencik has incredible comedic timing and delivery that helps bring a softer edge to the film and makes Lev an amiable character. On the other hand, Ellie Kendrick, contorts herself into a menacing figure as the dybbuk inside her springs forth again from Leah. She plays with many of the possession tropes seen in previous films but does so in a grounded manner.
Some aspects of the story are bit too coincidental to take seriously. Characters somehow always manage to find each other despite having little knowledge around the setting they are in, and this happens across characters. It also can’t be ignored that many of the issues that Maja faces in Attachment could have been subverted had any of the characters communicated effectively with each other. This could be commentary on this social norm or be intrinsic to these characters specifically, but it does stretch believability at points.
Mixing horror with other genres is always a recipe to get something interesting. This is certainly true for Attachment, which proves itself to be an emotional journey into terror that subverts tropes in both horror and romance. Balancing the need to elevate the stakes of Leah’s possession with her relationship with Maja, Attachment leans into the questions that ask how far you will go for someone you love. It never quite hits the heights of horror one might expect from a possession film, but it’s tender enough in its journey that investing in the characters is simple. Attachment is another solid queer horror film that hopefully receives the warm reception on Shudder when it premieres next year, so don’t miss out on that meet-cute.
Overall Score? 6.5/10