Attachment: Doublets, by Rudie Obias
Religion as horror is nothing new in cinema. There are several successful movies in the sub-genre, such as Rosemary’s Baby, The Conjuring, Midsommar, and others come to mind. Most of these movies are rooted in Christianity, while Jewish horror movies are few and far between. Although movies like The Vigil, The Unborn, and The Golem take on the supernatural aspects of Judisam, Attachment takes a different approach—it injects the sub-genre into a queer romantic comedy, of sorts.
Written and directed by Danish filmmaker Gabriel Bier Gislason (in his directorial debut), Attachment follows Maja, played by Josephine Park, a has-been TV actor, who meets and falls in love with Leah, played by Ellie Kendrick, a British academic who is only in Denmark for a few days. The pair meet at a bookstore, where Maja performs story hour as her failed children’s TV show character. Maja and Leah have a fun meet cute and first date, where they spend hours drinking and talking—which leads to the young couple spending the night and then eventually the next few days together.
At first glance, you wouldn’t be too far off from thinking that you were watching a romantic comedy—considering that there’s a real chemistry between Maja and Leah. However, during their first night together, something horrifying and creepy is brewing underneath. Leah talks in her sleep and has nightmares, while she later sleepwalks. Maja is oblivious to all of this until Leah has a violent seizure and injures her knee, which leads Leah to go back to London where her overbearing and overprotective mother Chana, played by Sofie Gråbøl, waits for her return home.
The film shifts into its unsettling themes once the couple arrive in London. Leah lives in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, while Maja begins to feel more and more isolated and different—as she starts to discover the supernatural of the religion. To get a better handle on the situation, Maja meets Lev, played by David Dencik, a Rabbi and bookstore owner who teaches her about Jewish customs and superstitions, like Dybbuk, a dead soul living in a body.
Attachment feels like two movies for the price of one. The first half of the movie feels like a romantic comedy like a queer Before Sunrise, while the second half feels like a religious horror movie like The Exorcist and The Possession. Gislason does a fine job balancing the tones, while offering genuinely sweet and funny moments with bouts of terror and suspense—especially in the film’s final act where it goes from light comedy to gruesome body horror on a dime.
Moreover, where Attachment really shines is in its performances—namely Josephine Park, who does a lot of heavy lifting as the audience surrogate. Park plays Maja with a lot of vulnerability and concern, as she is eagerly trying to understand her new lover’s background, while also calculating trying to start a life with her new girlfriend. It’s almost as if it’s like starting a new relationship and meeting their family for the first time. You want to fit in and be likable, while at the same time, you want to stand out and be impressive—as a new piece in your significant other’s life. Park plays that balancing act well, just as director Gislason balances Attachment’s dueling tones.
Attachment is exclusively streaming on Shudder on February 9.