Follows its debut at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, Finnish horror movie Hatching has generated considerable buzz. Just the premise and accompanying promotional material are enough pique curiosity. Its premise of a young girl ‘hatching’ a monster from an implausibly large egg conjures up allusions to something written by The Brothers Grimm. From first time director Hanna Bergholm, Hatching has earned some impressive critical praise since arriving on VOD platforms.
On the surface, Tinja lives a perfect life in a suburban Finnish home. Her mother, a former figure skater and influencer, documents their ‘average Finnish’ family on her blog. But beneath the surface of her mother’s carefully crafted image, Tinja feels constant pressure to live up to unattainable standards. When she finds a strange egg in the woods outside her home, Tinja nests and soon hatches it secretly in her bedroom. A hideous bird-like creature emerges that immediately shares a connection with Tinja. It’s a connection that soon becomes dangerous as the creature begins to act on Tinja’s darkest desires.
Hatching a Confident Mix of Monster Movie and Dark Suburban Fairy Tale
Though it’s only her first feature-length movie, director Hanna Bergholm skillfully mixes classic monster with fairy tale to create a suburban nightmare. Specifically, Hatching exists in a worlds of contrasting images. That is, Bergholm captures much of the daytime scenes in brightly-colored, perfectly framed shots. Like Mother’s manicured blog posts, Hatching’s cinematography hides a darker world. When Tinja finds the mysterious egg in the wood by her home, the swirling mist and crooked trees lend the scene a nightmarish feeling. Both the scares and violence come in sparing doses. Yet they are also very effective at eliciting jumps and revulsion. As the bird creature morphs, Bergholm adds some body horror – it’s not excessive, but it is no less disturbing.
Like Mother’s manicured blog posts, Hatching’s cinematography hides a darker world.
In addition to Bergholm’s tight pacing, Hatching benefits from impressive creature and make-up effects. The movie’s evolving creature comes courtesy of animatronic designer Gustav Hoegen. Aside from offering a reminder that CGI isn’t the only way to brings monsters to life, Hoegen’s work is intricate and genuinely creepy. One of the movie’s best scenes involves the creature crawling out from Tinja’s bed, which is captured almost entirely in a mirror. Later in the movie, make-up artist Conor O’Sullivan turns Hatching’s monster into a more humanoid creature that looks no less impressive. Some of the finale’s effects should have audiences cringing.
Hatching a Layered Story Supported by Strong Performances
It says something that the scariest monster in this Finnish movie isn’t what crawled out of the large egg. Credited only as ‘Mother’, Sophia Heikkilä plays the worst onscreen mother since Faye Dunaway played ‘Joan Crawford’ in Mommie Dearest. Writer Ilja Rautsi has crafted a subtle mix of dark fairy tale and social commentary. And it’s Hatching’s ‘Mother’ that offers a stinging indictment of our cultural obsession with image and perfection. Heikkilä turns on a dime with her impressive performance. In one scene, she’s that exaggerated happiness synonymous with TikTok videos and mommy bloggers. But when she turns off the camera, Heikkilä abruptly shifts into a cold, critical matriarch who stages her husband and children like props. Her third act meltdown is nearly as scary as the monster itself.
…much of Hatching success hinges on young Siiri Solalinna’s dual performance. And Solalinna capably rises to the occasion.
However, much of Hatching success hinges on young Siiri Solalinna’s dual performance. And Solalinna capably rises to the occasion. Rautsi’s story also includes complex messages about the relationships between mothers and daughters as well as the challenges of becoming an adolescents. Like the classic Universal Monsters, Rautsi’s creature also elicits sympathy as it reflects Tinja’s dark id. It’s a lot to put on a young performer, but Solalinna pulls it off. She expertly balances that desire to please your parents with a quiet resentment for the tolls these expectations take. It’s a mature performance that earns an emotional climax for Hatching.
Hatching Reminds Us That There Are Still Original Ideas in Horror
In a world of sequels, prequels, and remakes, Hatching feels like a disturbing breath of fresh air. First-time director Bergholm demonstrates remarkable confidence working from Rautsi’s nuanced story. On one hand, Hatching works as a frightening bit of body horror that scares and shocks in equal measures. But it’s also a horror movie filled with ideas that keeps you thinking beyond its conclusion. At once Hatching is about the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters and the difficult transition into adolescence while also offering a commentary on our cultural obsession with image and perfection.