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Attachment: A Lesbian Love Story

Attachment (2022) is a Danish Shudder original directed by Gabriel Bier Gidlason, and it is an engaging lesbian romance of a horror film. Ugh, Ellie Kendrick and Josephine Park are adorable, and have fantastic chemistry.

Despite every summary’s attempts to villainies Chana, the film itself fails entirely in its misdirection: it’s fairly clear from the beginning that the threat comes from Leah and not her mother (and also nature of the threat itself). Ultimately this is not a failing, because like other religious horror and possession films it is the gothic nature of the execution rather than the “monster” that creates a sense of unease.

I absolutely love religious horror, and Attachment’s adoption of Jewish mysticism as opposed to Roman Catholicism was a refreshing change of pace and challenge to the genre. While traditionally these films rely on priests and the church as an institution, here a believer/mother is able to protect her daughter. Her code of silence is her Achilles heel, but there is strength in the community.

And while no relationship is perfect, and I can see how one could describe their relationship as too codependent and potentially toxic, I'm choosing to read Maja's devotion romantically. Unlike so many queer romance movies, the relationship between Leah and Maja isn't designed for a straight audience: there's no real trauma and very little by way of excusing their lesbian romance. The film doesn't ignore historic oppression of queer peoples in religious communities: Maja asks directly if Leah's religious mother disapproves of her sexuality, and Leah's devout uncle tells Maja directly that he knows the women are not "just friends" - and says "I don't care. And neither does Chana."

The trauma, then, is not about homosexuality, but the possession. The principle characters just Bakker to be gay women. And instead of a ridiculous "we live you anyway" or sappy "I can't do this yet" straight ending, the film demonstrates devotion. Maja loves Leah, and so takes up Chana's mother's role in keeping her safe.

Are there problems with that choice? Yup. But in the suspended disbelief fantasy of the film does it read romantically? Also yup.

It's a happy ending.

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