A struggling pre-teen gymnast with an overbearing mother discovers a strange egg with deadly consequences. Hatching is a Finnish horror film that addresses multiple difficult themes. Its primary focus is body dysmorphia. The protagonist starves and brutalizes herself to meet harsh expectations. Hatching also works as a revolting creature feature. The egg unleashes a freakish monster that needs to be fed and acts viciously on the emotional state of its young caretaker. Hatching is thoughtful, disturbing, and frankly sickening; despite a predictable ending with minor flaws.
In an idyllic Finnish suburb, Mother (Sophia Heikkilä) has a popular lifestyle blog about her perfect family. She records her twelve-year-old daughter, Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) practicing for a gymnastics competition. Father (Jani Volanen) and their young son, Matias (Oiva Ollila), watch in happy admiration. The scene changes once the camera stops rolling. Mother bitterly scolds Tinja for her mistakes. Matias is an obnoxious brat. Suddenly, a raven crashes through the window. It causes chaos until cruelly dispatched.
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Tinja hears strange noises in the woods behind their house. She’s stunned to find the bird near death and ends its suffering. Then she notices a small egg. A guilty Tinja takes it back to her room and warms it under her teddy bear. Tinja is disgusted after repeatedly falling in training. Even worse, her new neighbor, Reetta (Ida Määttänen), might take her spot in the competition. She returns home to find Mother and the handyman (Reino Nordin) in a compromising state. Tinja cradles her egg, which has grown much larger, while weeping bitterly. The shell begins to crack.
From Tinja’s Point of View
Siiri Solalinna carries the film as Tinja and has another role as the film progresses. We see everything from her point of view a she loves Mother and will do anything to please her. Mother never physically abuses Tinja, but her words cut like a knife. Tinja hates herself for not being talented. Hatching becomes even more twisted when Tinja has to feed the monster. It will only eat what she regurgitates, reinforcing her anorexia and bulimia, all while she is already painfully thin and bony. These scenes are especially unsettling.
The animatronics and practical effects fit perfectly into the narrative. The monster is hideous and quite scary and changes dramatically throughout the story. My skin crawled every time Tinja interacted with it. Finnish Director Hanna Bergholm excels in her feature debut and smartly never goes overboard. The film has blood, guts, and gore aplenty in context. The creature does not attack indiscriminately or go on a killing spree, rather, it seeks anything that causes Tinja distress. This narrow focus causes significant turmoil as Tinja becomes overwhelmed with guilt and fear.
A Point of Predictability
Hatching has a point of predictability. I watched hoping for a better resolve and was left a bit disappointed. The film takes an easy way out of a horrendous dilemma. Also, Father is believable as a willing cuckold but his lack of action in the third act is too passive. No parent would spectate if their children were threatened.
Hatching leaves an uneasy feeling. The horror genre themes are solid but Tinja’s inability to cope with her young life is depressingly realistic. Mother is a familiar tyrant. She represents the modern cultural embrace of selfishness and narcissism, pushing her child to accomplish her failed dreams. Hatching starkly illustrates the unnecessary burdens placed on children.
Hatching, originally titled Pahanhautoja, has Finnish dialogue with English subtitles. The film is a production of Silva Mysterium Oy. It will have a limited theatrical release on April 29th from IFC Midnight.
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Julian Roman has been with Movieweb for nearly twenty years. An avid film buff, he feels lucky to have interviewed and written extensively about Hollywood’s greatest talents. In his spare time he plays guitar, treasures good company, and always seeks new adventures.
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