The short skinny is that I had done some fascinating reading as of late into the topics of demons, demonology, and demonic possession; and I was curious if any of them could recommend more non-fiction books that might perk my interest as well. Much to my surprise, the vast majority of this group assured me that it was their collective opinion that such a thing was not an authentic paranormal phenomenon, that these accounts around the worldwide were run by charlatans and attention-seeking ‘whores’ (their term, not mine), and that those exhibiting what were symptoms commonly associated to possession were in reality mental patients in need of further care.
“Ouch,” as they say.
Now, I don’t fault them for having their opinion, mind you. Fringe experiences are certainly open to anyone’s interpretation, and each of us have to sift the facts to decide just what it is we believe about such occurrences. While I’ll admit that I’ve not quite made my mind up on these events, I’ve always tried to evaluate each of them with an open mind, to apply skepticism when it would seem an appropriate course of reply, and to always give those plagued by whatever challenges life puts in from of them the benefit of the doubt … until a plausible explanation rears its head with cautious yet reasoned analysis.
Still, I’ll admit that I do love a good spooky story as much as the next viewer, and that’s exactly what Attachment (2022) delivers. Mind you, it’s a very, very, very slow-burning examination of some complex human relationships set against the backdrop of the supernatural (Jewish mysticisms, mostly, so some might dismiss it on that point alone). For those who do appreciate these stories, I encourage you to explore it and remain patient: unlike other Horrors that amply serve up one visual fright after another, Attachment takes its sweet time, peeling back a single layer at a time while opening a door into the dark corner of this fictional universe.
Only the patient will be rewarded.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for the final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the film’s IMDB.com page citation:
“Maja, a Danish has-been actress, falls in love with Leah, a Jewish academic from London. Leah suffers a mysterious seizure, and Maja returns with her to London. There, she meets Leah’s mother, Chana, a woman who could hold dark secrets.”
Indeed, Attachment includes a few secrets that are revealed in such a way that writer/director Gabriel Bier Gislason tries to keep audiences guessing just a bit, maybe even too much. But if he were to deliver this story any other way, then the core relationships – two young lovers, a mother and her daughter, as well as a look into an extended family within a wider religious community – might not have felt as authentic as they did, and that might be the greatest strength of the picture. Very slowly, I was brought into this circle; and – as more was revealed – the more I cared about the individual pieces.
From what I’ve seen on film, we’re usually given a protagonist who ends up serving a bit like a detective. Slowly, we’re tugged along the journey of realization, with the director and production team giving us a fair amount of blood, sweat, and other bodily fluids to ratchet up the scare quotient. Attachment doesn’t work like that; though you might notice a drop of two here and there, this is largely a more effective story because it doesn’t rely on the typical Horror conventions, except in a few passable instances of familiarity to help set the proper mood. Otherwise, its suspense relies on the work of its screen players, and I found them all particular good.
Award-winning actress Josephine Park plays Maja, a somewhat down-on-her-luck failed actress whose life blossoms when she discovers a quick flirtation with a traveling misfit, Leah (Ellie Kendrick), that turns out to be a real relationship. Kendrick – seen previously in a supporting role aboard HBO’s Game Of Thrones adaptation – maintains a bookish charm consistently, and it’s her ability to remain understated that makes her slow transition into the Dybbuk-possessed entity such a devious delight to watch. Sofie Gråbøl gives a masterful job as Chana (Leah’s mother), a parent who has been somewhat just as outcast by society as has been her daughter but for reasons that only emerge well after some of the script’s best secrets are spilled.
These three women come together and collide emotionally in several different ways throughout Attachment’s slow haunting, each of them getting and delivering some wonderful moments big and small. But because such character-building takes time, I doubt this scare will be to everyone’s liking. Discoveries do not come as quickly as they do in like-minded fare, and Gislason misdirects the action probably a bit more than was absolutely necessary in a few spots. There is a method to the madness at stake here; and yet those hoping for something like The Exorcist may be hard-pressed to wait for the final reel.
Attachment (2022) was produced by Nordisk Film Productions. Though I could be mistaken on this point, I believe the film is only presently available (in the U.S.) via streaming on Shudder. While I’m not trained video expert, I will say that I thought the sights and sounds to the project were all very good; be warned that there are a few sequences photographed in nighttime settings, and – as such – they are occasionally a bit hard to see … but I didn’t find any of these sequences distracting in any way. In most cases, the technique only served to have me watch closer for the finer details.
Attachment (2022) might just be one of the finest possession-style dramas I’ve had the good fortune to watch. And I say this as one who isn’t all that much a fan of the typical haunts that inspire more mainstream audiences. This project is backed with an awful lot of character explorations – along with a few narrative techniques involving a seminal flashback that keeps getting a bit more relevant the more you see it – so it might not be exactly what the typical Horror fan expects. First, get to know these people; only then will you be rewarded by the journey they take you on.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Shudder provided me with complimentary streaming access to Attachment (2022) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.