A New Kind of Possession Movie
Danish filmmaker Gabriel Bier Gislason has brought a new kind of possession film to Shudder, exploring the horrors of Jewish folklore. His new film, Attachment, stars Ellie Kendrick (Game of Thrones), Sofie Gråbøl (The House That Jack Built), Josephine Park (The Venus Effect), and David Dencik (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, No Time to Die). Attachment follows the relationship of Maja and Leah, who meet and quickly fall in love. After spending some time together, Leah has an unprompted seizure, leading to Maja joining Leah in London under the care of Leah’s mother, Chana.
As Maja gets to know Chana and becomes more in-tuned to the family’s Jewish roots, she starts to believe Chana is holding secrets about Leah, and possibly making her condition worse. Maja starts to unravel the dark history between Leah and her mother, and finds that things may go far beyond a normal volatile mother-daughter relationship.
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Attachment’s biggest strength is its cast. Most people are familiar with Ellie Kendrick’s performance as Meera Reed in Game of Thrones, but this film gives her a chance to shine in a co-lead role, and she does so brilliantly. Her constant switching between being the normal everyday girlfriend of Maja and being overtaken by a dark presence shows a level of talent we haven’t seen from the actress before. Josephine Park’s performance as Maja was also excellent, as she showed both a timid and reserved personality that was put to the test once she felt that the person she loves is in danger. Though, there were some points of the film where it felt like their relationship happened much too fast for Maja to be as invested as she was. However, it was nice to see a focus on an LGBTQ+ relationship; something that isn’t done enough in horror movies, or in the film industry as a whole. It was especially rewarding to not have a forced side story about the relationship being wrong for being same-sex, and rather, just held a normalized view of a same-sex relationship. This type of representation is important, doesn’t go unnoticed, and should be utilized more, in this exact way.
Related: Why You Should Be Excited for Possession’s Streaming Debut on Shudder
The biggest standout performance of the film was Sofie Gråbøl in the role of Leah’s mother, Chana. On the surface, it seems that Chana is merely showing an intense dedication to her Jewish religion, but underneath, her dialogue and actions prove that she’s only showing the utmost care for her daughter, and in the only way she knows how. All three actresses were engaging, and their chemistry was infectious, as it felt like their shared scenes challenged one another to continue their fantastic performances. David Dencik in a supporting role as Lev, the “exorcising” Rabbi, brought forth a mysterious, yet friendly character you can feel for.
A Unique Look at Jewish Folklore
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Unlike most possession and exorcism films, Attachment focuses on folklore that isn’t looked at often in horror movies. The film explores the history of the dybbuk, a ghost-like presence that wanders the human plane in search of a body to overtake; usually someone who deals with mental or physical illness. In Attachment, the lore of the dybbuk brings a fresh and interesting aspect that differentiates the film from other movies in the same possession-style sub-genre. It’s a nice break from the normal exorcism-based storylines that horror watchers are used to seeing in these types of films. The usage of an under-represented and underseen culture and folklore in horror gives this film some brownie points in the uniqueness category. Even the exorcism itself is different from most other films, giving a focused view into the cultural aspect of disposing of an insidious force.
Related: Best Folklore Horror Movies From the Last Decade
A Slower Pace, But a Heartfelt Ending
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One of Attachment’s biggest issues is its pacing. While there’s an understanding of story-building and intensity into Chana and Leigh’s inflammable relationship, it becomes pretty clear quite early that there are malevolent forces at work, and a lot of time was spent beforehand on hammering out the volatility between mother, daughter, and Maja, which felt a little unnecessary, as the story turns in a completely different direction. With that being said, the building animosity between Leigh, Maja, and Chana leads to a heartfelt and fulfilling third act and conclusion. Chana’s explanation of Leigh’s past and everything she’s had to do to keep her safe was simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming. With the amount of horror that the trio was going through, her genuine care for not only her daughter, and her newly found trust for her daughter’s new girlfriend was believable and made for an earnest climax to the film.
Overall, Attachment was well worth the watch and provided a unique and interesting take on the possession sub-genre of horror. Attachment is now available for streaming on Shudder.