attachment | gabriel bier gislason | josephine park | ellie kendrick | david dencik | religion | mythology | dybbuk | demon | possession | possessed | comedy | romance | denmark | sofie grabol | katrine jensenius | lado hadzic | hana shuan | sevik perl | elinor znaider
Film: Attachment (Natten har øjne)
Director: Gabriel Bier Gislason
Writer: Gabriel Bier Gislason
Starring: Josephine Park, Ellie Kendrick and David Dencik
This is a movie that I decided on when I was looking for a 2023 horror release. I couldn’t make it to the theater to catch one and this is one that I saw on Shudder. It went on a list of ones to check out when I needed something for this category. I did read the synopsis before seeing this. I also double checked to ensure it counted for this year.
Synopsis: Maja (Josephine Park), a Danish has-been actor, falls in love with Leah (Ellie Kendrick), a Jewish academic from London. Leah suffers a mysterious seizure and Maja returns with her to London. There, she meets Leah’s Mother, Chana (Sofie Gråbøl), a woman who could hold dark secrets.
We start this off in Denmark. Maja is running late for a book reading to children when she bumps into Leah. She is book shopping and there seems to be a spark between the two. There is a mix up afterwards as well. Maja took one of Leah’s books so she has to improvise the Christmas story she tells. After the reading, Leah comes back and they decide to get a drink.
It is too early for wine so they start with tea. They spend the day talking and end up hooking up. Leah is supposed to catch a flight in the morning. That night though, something odd happens when she sleepwalks. Maja doesn’t think anything of it. Leah goes to leave, but she can’t. She wants to see where this relationship will go. That is until she has a seizure of sorts that the synopsis said. It leaves her with a broken leg. Maja decides to go to London with her since nothing is keeping her here.
Things are odd when she gets there. Maja meets Chana, who is cold toward her. Maja assumes it is because she doesn’t like that her daughter is a lesbian. We will learn that isn’t necessarily the case. Maja is Christian or non-practicing in any religion, so she finds odd things around Leah’s apartment. Maja also seems like she wants to fit in and meets Lev (David Dencik), who runs a Jewish bookstore in the area. It turns out that he is also the uncle to Leah.
Chana doesn’t reveal things to either Maja or Leah so the former makes her own inferences. She believes there could be Munchausen by proxy happening here. The problem is that Leah won’t accept it. Even though Maja is trying to help, due to not having all the information could make things worse when she takes Leah away from the apartment.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I want to start is that this is an interesting film. This is more of a romantic comedy with horror elements. The latter is where it ends up. It is more about this couple, Maja and Leah, falling in love without necessarily knowing enough about each other. This comes up when things get difficult. It is a whirlwind romance for sure. What is interesting here is that I hate when movies have our characters fall in love too easily. How it is portrayed here felt natural. We see that they chatted all day and into the night, which I’ll be honest, I’ve had a similar experience. The horror is in the background and builds to the climax. I thought that was creative as well.
Now that I’ve set that up, let me get into our characters. I’ll start with Maja. We learn that she was popular as an elf queen on television in the past. Life has been easy for her outside of still living in the house that belonged to her mother. She never found love and is lonely. Leah is similar to this. It seems that something happened in her past. Plus, she has an overbearing mother. They are also Jewish. I wouldn’t necessarily say the two women are opposites, but they are different. There is similarities as well that bring them together.
Next is shifting over to Chana and the Jewish lore. Starting with this mother, she wants what is best for her daughter. What I find interesting is that she is from Denmark originally. She can speak to Maja in her native tongue. This works in that she can hide things from Leah. This also happens when Leah, Chana and Lev speak in Yiddish. Chana gave up her life to come to London and to start this family. She gave up even more we see with Leah and her condition. It seems that she wasn’t as religious as she is now and that is what it stems from. Then to bring up Jewish lore, I love that Maja becomes us as the audience when she meets with Lev. He tells her about the golem, which is from Jewish mythology as a protector. He also brings up the dybbuk which is an entity that seems to be popping up more in things I’m seeing. I like the route this movie goes and how this factors in.
Now the last bit for the story is going to be a positive and the negative. I love how this portrays itself as a romance where drama stems from these two. You think Chana is against them being together. The horror builds in the background. Leah has her incident that leads to her breaking her leg. We think it could have a logical medical explanation. Chana seems to believe it is something more. Because information is withheld from Maja, she thinks that it is the mother or someone else is doing bad things toward Leah. She also thinks there could be mental illness here. I like where this ends up, but my problem is that it lost steam there. There is good heart in how this plays out. I just think it could be executed better. I didn’t hate this though, I want that put out there.
What makes this work though is the acting. Park and Kendrick play these similar, yet different characters. They bring their own emotional baggage and that works. I must give slightly more credit to Kendrick with what she gets to do with being ‘off’. It is eerie for sure and her performance helps. Gråbøl is also good as this woman who has the best intentions for her daughter. The problem with her is that she is too cryptic and it makes us suspicious. Denick is also good as our ‘expert’ on the supernatural. Other than that, I thought the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed.
All that is left is filmmaking. They do well with the cinematography. I think the angles and framing used help to hide things. They also use the whole frame, which is a plus for me. We don’t get a lot in the way of effects, we also don’t need it. What this does in lieu though is soft focus. This makes things a bit more eerie. I also commend the editing as it shows us things and then brings them back up to help us connect things happening. Soundtrack also fits for what was needed. There is also something with changing the sound of voices to go creepier as well.
In conclusion, this is a tight little film. It presents as one thing while if you are paying attention to the details, you see there is more under the surface. I appreciate that. The acting is also good from our group of stars. Park and Kendrick lead the way, but Gråbøl and Denick help push them to where they end up. This is well-made. No issues there. I just think that it needed a bit more horror for this to fully work. The use of Jewish mythology though worked for me. I’m a sucker there. Not a great movie. I do think it is worth at least a watch as it is solid.
My Rating: 7 out of 10