Attachment Movie Review
Attachment Movie Review Metadata
Attachment (Natten har øjne, 2022) is a modern love story with supernatural twist.
Maja (Josephine Park) and Leah meet over books in a Danish library over the Christmas holidays and an afternoon tea becomes drinks becomes dinner becomes a weekend lie in tangled in each other’s hair. Maja is an actress whose better days are behind her, making appearances in children’s library reading programs if for no other reason than to stave off boredom. She meets Leah (Ellie Kendrick), an academic exchange student from London during a rather charming and literal run-in, and they hit it off in the way of all fast and hot whirlwind romances. Leah seems to have a few medical issues, some muttering and sleepwalking, but it’s nothing that can’t be ignored when love is thick in the air. When she seriously injures herself however, it’s decided to return to reality and send Leah back to her mother, Chana (Sofie Gråbøl). Maja finds herself unable to leave Leah’s side and the blush of new love says an impromptu trip to London will be perfectly fine. Leah and Chana share a modified home in separate apartments, with Leah upstairs and her Jewish Orthodox mother downstairs. Chana doesn’t initially approve of the relationship, believing Maja couldn’t possibly love her daughter more than her own mother. Maja meanwhile only wants Chana to see that she’s a good influence on her daughter and to cut the apron strings already. Maja begins to see that the strange bond between Leah and Chana runs deeper than mere separation anxiety. Chana’s special massages and teas and religious charms speak of something darker than a love for her child. Employing the help of Chana’s brother, Lev (David Dencik), a bookseller of esoteric books that are forbidden to women, Maja hopes to peel back the veil of secretive household ceremonies, if only to prove who loves Leah more.
Like The Vigil (2019), The Offering (2019), Dybbuk (2019), and to a lesser extent the more Americanized, The Possession (2012), Attachment delves deep into the Jewish aspect of spiritualism and possession, with unfamiliar rituals of exorcism, binding, and release. Unlike Christian, specifically Catholic, Rites of Exorcism, which have been glamorized and nearly every horror fan can recite from memory, Jewish rites and rituals remain an enigma from the language (Hebrew, not Latin), to the tools, (salt, not blessed Holy Water), and the kinds of demon (Satan, who?), adding a layer of tension and drama as the unknown becomes a darker more treacherous place. You can’t see what’s coming if you don’t know the language.
Director Gabriel Bier Gislason introduces Leah and Maja as young women throwing caution to the wind and settling into a comfortable companionship before the relationship is a month old. His breezy pacing gives Maja barely time to choose a drawer for her underwear before she is swept into a tense standoff with Chana. Because of the ambiguity of the overall situation, the audience can’t be sure if the disapproval of Chana is because of the taboo relationship, or the fact her daughter is in a relationship at all. Both Park and Kendrick maintain the blush of early love, and Gråbøl keeps her possessive disdain from becoming the only aspect of their personalities. None of the characters become shrill shrieking harpies fighting over a prize piece of meat, and the tension rises in steps so subtle, before you’re sure which to be more afraid of – the mother, or the supernatural force that threatens bloody carnage – the circle is drawn, and the chanting begins
The everyday mysticism of Attachment, lends the supernatural a casual banality between Chana and Leah that Maja, the Danish non-Jewish outsider in this Orthodox community, cannot hope to crack. Black candles burning at all hours – shouldn’t there be light? Feed a demon to keep it sated – sure? Wear a stone to keep restless souls calm, doesn’t everyone? The horror of Attachment isn’t that there is something really wrong with Leah, but that loving Leah means fighting to be accepted by a force that doesn’t want to let her go.
I’m well aware not every horror movie is made for me and the Attachment poster promises lurid bedroom sneaky peeks. I’m also not big on shoehorning romances and comedy into my horror. Is it funny because it’s not scary? Is there a romance because it’s neither scary nor funny enough? These should come naturally in the course of the story. To its credit, Attachment presents a relationship where romance, comedy, and horror are woven so naturally, it seems a shame to call them out individually.
Attachment (Natten har øjne, 2022) is unrated, but call it a Rated R for first blush canoodling, subtle sexytimes, booze, drugs, broken legs, offal, demonic transformations, mauled neighbors, and a missing cat.
Attachment is presented in English and Danish with subtitles, so you may pick up a few new swears, and is streaming exclusively on Shudder.