New Love Gets Spooky in Folklore-Inspired Horror Film
Feb 7, 2023
Home Movie Reviews ‘Attachment’ Review: New Love Gets Spooky in Jewish Folklore-Inspired Horror Movie
Attachment explores the joys and tribulations of new love, spicing a delicate love story with truly horrifying elements.
There are few things in life more exciting than new love. Meeting someone and realizing they uniquely fit with us can deliver a rush of pleasure through our whole body. It’s an unmatched sensation, and everyone who falls in love at least once in their life can attest to how powerful it feels. This peak energy also makes so many relationships crash and burn, as the next step after falling in love is getting to know the other person in detail, which often means dealing with nightmarish family members, traumatic experiences, and annoying habits. Written and directed by Gabriel Bier GislasonIt in his feature-length film debut, Attachment explores the joys and tribulations of new love, splicing a delicate love story with truly horrifying elements.
Attachment begins in Denmark, where hopeless actress Maja (Josephine Park) meets foreign student Leah (Ellie Kendrick). Due to geographic limitations, Maja and Leah’s love is doomed from the start since Leah will only be in Denmark for a few more days. However, the pressure of time and the fear of missing out on a great love story pushes them closer quickly. First, Leah misses her plane home to stay by Maja’s side a bit longer. Then, Maja decides to uproot her life and move in with Leah in London. Their love is challenged when Maja gets to London, as she realizes Leah lives in a Jewish neighborhood with her mother (Sofie Gråbøl), an orthodox woman who often ignores her daughter’s boundaries in the name of tradition.
While Attachment only takes a few minutes to set its story, the movie will spend the rest of its runtime exploring the complicated relationship of the three women. The newly formed couple is forced to realize they don’t know each other that well, and moving in together might have been a bad decision. Meanwhile, Maja’s external look at Leah and their mother’s relationship forces the young woman to realize how her privacy and independence are frequently violated in her mother’s house. Finally, Maja feels isolated and disconnected in a culture she doesn’t understand, wondering if she made the right choice to move away.
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Since so much of Attachment depends on character, the movie couldn’t be as successful as it is without brilliant performances from the main cast. The trio of protagonists shines in every second of the runtime, each giving new emotional layers to their characters while navigating a dense story of family, trust, and sacrifice, wrapped with Jewish folklore. Kendrick deserves particular praise for how she transfigurates into a menacing figure when the script demands her to, even though the make-up and special effects work in Attachment is kept at a minimum. And while Attachment’s story deals with elements specific to Jewish tradition and challenges typical to Europe, Kendrick, Park, and Gråbøl make the movie a universal story about mother, daughter, and lovers.
Despite everything it does impressively well, Attachment still fails to define an identity for itself, dangling insecurely between horror and drama. The movie is stronger when it revolves around character growth, but the relationship between the three women is defined by the supernatural elements of the plot. That means Attachment couldn’t work as a simple exploration of human struggle. However, Attachment never truly embraces horror, with its supernatural elements often feeling like an afterthought. As a result, Attachment is a hard sell for average horror fans, who might be disappointed by the lack of scary moments or even the absence of an overall sense of dread.
While flawed and the script retraces some well-known horror beats, it’s rare for a debut feature to have as much heart as Attachment does. And even if GislasonIt doesn’t seem to master the horror of his movie, Attachment frequently subverts expectations when it comes to queer representation and Jewish traditions, keeping the story fresh until the credits roll. The film might not be the best choice for people looking for new terrors to populate their nightmares. But anyone looking for an honest and poignant exploration of love and family should keep Attachment on their radar.
Attachment comes to Shudder on February 9.
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