Short film review: Demonic Attachment
Director: Matt Aaron Krinsky
Writer: Jennifer Nangle
Stars: Jennifer Nangle, Jennifer Farac, Dyana Liu
Jennifer Nangle and her catalog of shorts is something horror fans need to pay attention to. This Indie filmmaker and fellow Angeleno recently premiered her latest short, the 18-minute Demonic Attachment, succeeding a special screening of two prior projects: Dare You and a 15-second film (yep, 15 seconds…), Case 311 (more on these in a moment). Although Demonic Attachment is filmed on a modest budget, the film succeeds at embracing horror tropes fans have come to love without appearing cheap and derivative. Nangle, who hopes to turn this film into a full-length feature, has a compelling story to tell; a story with a premise based on a traumatic incident that involves a spiritual haunting that plagued parts of her childhood. That experience is manifested in the horror that plagues our title character and is able to convey deep psychological trauma within the truncated space and time of this movie.
As the title suggests, a demon has attached itself onto our protagonist Jennifer (Nangle) like a parasite on its host. This succubus-like figure is, both figuratively and literally, sucking the life out of Jennifer, who Nagle convincingly plays as a person suffering from trauma and depression. Jennifer’s apartment, like her soul, is barren – a sign for audiences that may see this as an economic choice given the budget constraints of the film, but the bleak and empty space is much more symbolic to the plight of its ailing resident. The white on the walls appears aged and arid, the brown couch soiled and uncomfortable, the natural light permanently dim. It is not a hospitable place for Jennifer, but the perfect cesspool for demonic conception.
Jennifer is soon visited by an on-call psychiatrist, the latest in a dozen or so who have failed to treat her affliction. But of course, this doctor is different and adept in treating ungodly spirits. She offers Jennifer a quick remedy until she can contact a group of women specializing in exorcisms. Jennifer is shocked, and she contemplates how such a burden came to be.
Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead
If you are thinking you know how this ends, you would probably be correct. Our coven of exorcists seems to be able to relieve Jennifer of her attached demon, but it is the subject matter of this story that is intriguing and hasn’t been done before (or at least quite right).
In a spate of recent witch shows and movies (Salem, The Witch), the sign, for better or worse, is that the monstrous female is back and popular as ever. Demonic Attachment has an opportunity to ride this wave of new found popularity as the story, and its “true story” premise, stem from the Salem witch trials. It turns out that the demon attaching to Jennifer is a restless spirit of one of those witches, and she latched to Jennifer when our afflicted victim was a child living in a Massachusetts home in proximity to the witches.
Because the film is a short, this particular plot development is more matter-of-fact than deep exploration. (Why is the witch-now-demon attaching to Jen, for example? What is her motivation?). Time is obviously the issue in the short run, but a fully developed feature will be able to explore this tumultuous time in history and add layers to Jennifer’s character. For Nangle, she should see this as an audience wanting more. And more she can certainly give.
Which brings me back to her other shorts: Dare You and Case 311. Dare You is a fun and experimental found footage concept playing on every child’s favorite legend: Bloody Mary. For a film clocking in at only a handful of minutes, this take on the familiar is quite scary and funny at times (saying Bloody Mary three times whilst holding a selfie stick is probably what every teenage girl is doing these days). This creative, postmodern project shows Nangle’s range for simply fun filmmaking.
But it is Case 311 that intrigued me most and offered a glimpse into Nangle’s psyche and possibly her inspiration for Demonic Attachment. For the 15-second run – part of the "15 Second Horror Film" Challenge (look it up – it’s cool!) – we see Nangle in a stray jacket, locked in an asylum arguing with her inner self (an actual doppelganger whispering in her ear), contemplating whether she is guilty of the acts that sent her to a physical and mental prison. This psychological play works well as a prelude not only to her latest project, but for the potential of future films, some of which I hope become the full-length features she and her fans (current and new) deserve.