- Rev Horror
Dir. Gabriel Bier Gislason (2022)
Washed up Danish actress Maja quickly falls in love with Leah, a visiting Brit, but distance, family, and a possible possession threaten to upend things before they start.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
There’s nothing quite so sweet as a new relationship. You’re getting to know each other, you start to meet each other’s family… all of the idiosyncrasies that make your partner your partner fall into place, each puzzle piece making a picture of the perfect whole that you are determined to jam into the parts of you that are lonely or lacking. For Maja and Leah, this process starts when they run into each other in a bookstore. Leah is there to read to children, a leftover responsibility from her job as a children’s television star, while Leah is researching her schooling on Jewish history. They find each other and begin their romance, quickly falling head over heels for each other despite their cultural and language differences. When Leah has a seizure and injures herself, Maja returns with her to London, where the pair meet Leah’s overzealous and hyper-religious mother and her strange and often frightening customs. What starts as a love story quickly turns to horror as Leah’s family history comes into focus, and the young lovers realize that everything not be quite what it seems.
It's a brilliant idea for a film, turning all of the tenets of a romantic comedy into a horror movie through many of the same topics that bring laughs in more traditional romantic films. Gislason has created a sleek and beautifully shot film that pushes the boundaries of genre, focusing his religious dogma around Judaism. It’s an interesting choice, dealing with dybbuks and golems and the like, and it’s one that has rarely been dealt with in comparison to other legends. It’s also quite brave to do in this day and age, where antisemitism is a hot topic that has unfortunately been forced into the zeitgeist. The “otherness” of Judaism has been discussed by horror scholars since An American Werewolf in London and before, but it is intriguing to see the concept without it being Americanized as in Ole Bornedal’s The Possession.
The acting is nothing short of phenomenal. Josephine Park and Ellie Kendrick are great as Maja and Leah, but it is Sofie Grabol who steals the show as Leah’s possibly evil mother. Gislason crafts a fantastic story, a traditional meet-the-parents film steeped in Jewish folklore with a demonic twist, and he does so without any fancy special effects and entirely leaning on the strength of his cast and crew and the excellence of his writing. Exorcism movies are all old hat at this point, so it’s very difficult to come up with a twist that others haven’t already done better. Despite not really adding anything to the subgenre, Attachment does a great job of giving its audience a clever film that is immensely watchable and compelling nonetheless. There are enough scares to make the horror fan happy, and it’s a good enough movie that it can bring in some non-genre fans as well. One of the better films that I’ve watched recently, and I highly recommend that you give it a shot.
Who this movie is for: Modern horror lovers, Religious horror fans, Orthodox Jews
Bottom line: Writer/director Gabriel Bier Gislason has written an exorcism horror film for the 21st century, creating a film that deals with Jewish folklore and lesbianism (and the relationship between the two) in heartfelt and respectful ways. Exorcism films tend to be either a bit too religious or completely sacrilegious, and Gislason sidesteps that problem entirely. The acting is first-rate, the cinematography is near-perfect, and the cultural commentary is unique and compelling. Shudder has been on fire with their recent additions, and Attachment is just the newest in their line of captivating modern horror films. It’s an excellent film, and I highly recommend that you check it out. If you’re not already subscribed to Shudder, what are you even doing with your life?