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Review of Danish horror-lesbian romance, ‘Attachment’ about an evil spirit
‘ATTACHMENT’ is a Danish horror-drama that is also an unexpected LGBT romance about two women with different cultures and upbringing, now available on streaming. The lead characters are Maja (Josephine Park), a former actress who played an elf in a Danish TV show for kids, and Leah (Ellie Kendrick, “Game of Thrones”), a London-based Jewish student doing some research.
The film starts with their first meeting in a library in Denmark where Maja is supposed to read to some children. She and Leah accidentally bump into each other and their things fell into the floor.
Sparks fly and there is instant rapport between them. They go to a cafe to talk, with Maja inviting Leah later for wine in her pad. They fall in love and Leah stays with Maja, sharing the same bed.
One night, Maja sees Leah sleepwalking by their bedside. The next time, she suddenly collapses and has a seizure that is so violent it breaks her left leg and the broken bones had to be cast.
It’s time for Leah to return to London and, since she’s practically a cripple walking in crutches, Maja volunteers to accompany her in going home. In London, Maja meets Leah’s mom, the overprotective Chana (Sofie Grabol), who’s always checking on her daughter on the phone while she is in Denmark. Obviously, this is not your typical lesbian love story.
Chana doesn’t seem to welcome Maja and appears to be a bit abrasive in supervising everything that Leah does. Maja also observes that she has installed strange Jewish items in their house, like lighted candles and plates with weird illustrations. So Maja goes to a Jewish bookstore to inquire about their significance.
She meets Lev (David Dencik), who happens to be Chana’s brother-in-law and Maja’s uncle. When Chana learns that he has spoken to Maja, she forbids Lev to do so and the mystery of what is really happening in her house deepens.
If you intend to watch the movie in a streaming channel, we’ll ask you to stop reading as the rest of this review will be a spoiler. The viewer will identify with Maja and her escalating fear. She initially views Chana as a roadblock to her budding love affair with Leah.
But slowly, she learns about Chana’s dark secrets and what is really afflicting Leah. It has something to do with Jewish folklore and an evil spirit in Judaism known as the dybbuk, a malevolent Yiddish spirit who enters the body of a person and possesses it.
It turns out that Leah’s body is inhabited by such evil entity since childhood. Chana cannot exorcise it and Leah has become co-dependent with it. This is the reason why she is so overbearing and is so ultra-Jewish Orthodox in the treatment of her only daughter. It’s really for her own safety.
“Attachment” is the film feature debut of writer-director Gabriel Gislason. The germ of the story seems to be quite intriguing but the way it’s developed on screen is certainly not scary. It gets real slow and drawn out in the storytelling. After a while, we’re wishing they’d pick up the pacing to hasten its explanation on what is happening on screen.
There are some unexplained aspects in the story. The biggest one is: if Chana is really so pushy in protecting Leah and cannot bear to let her off her eyes, why did she allow her to go to London at all?
And why all the secrecy about Leah’s predicament. It could have been easier for everyone if she told Maja the truth early on. But then, there will be no conflict at all and the film can be told in half an hour.
We really wish the film were more successful in building up tension and suspense, but it doesn’t even offer the usual jump scares. The film reminds us of the Australian horror film, “The Babadook”, which is also about a supernatural spirit that can possess people and is more successful in giving the audience a good scare.
We also wish there was more chemistry between the two lead stars. Actually, the movie was more successful in making us laugh than in spooking us. The funniest scene is when Maja and Leah are making love in bed then the door suddenly opens and Chana barges in. It was truly an awkward moment for the lovers, but not for Chana who even seems nonchalant about it.
In the end, at the heart of the movie is actually a story about a mother and daughter spiced up with a queer romance.