One of the hallmarks of elevated horror is that the scares are sandwiched within a message or a metaphor. We’ve seen it time and time again, often with quite a bit of success. One element or another may take center-stage, but the mix is a prerequisite. Your individual type of horror may vary, but this is certainly a popular modern take on the genre. Now, Hatching is here to take that style, mix it with a bit of Yorgos Lanthimos-style deadpan, and put something fairly new out into the world. To say that you haven’t quite seen anything like this film before is a bit of an understatement. It’s a future cult classic or midnight movie in the making, mark my words.
Hatching takes an out there premise and mixes it with a fairly on point message about mothers and daughters. There are times where the message takes center stage at the expense of scares (though there’s a body horror element to this that’s effectively gross), but the nimble dancing around of genres is something to behold. It certainly won’t be for everyone, but the more open-minded you are to weirdness, the more this likely will hit home for you.
Seen from the outside, Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) and her family are living the perfect life. Her mother (Sophia Heikkilä) even has a video blog about their supposed perfect family, which also features lookalike father (Jani Volanen) and son (Oiva Ollila). Of course, all is far from ideal, with infidelity, stress, and even violence just below the surface. The young gymnast desperately tries to please her demanding mother, but the discovery of a strange egg after a scary encounter with a bird begins to change the equation.
Taking the egg home and caring for it, Tinja sees it quickly grow in size, before suddenly hatching. What emerges is both beautiful and horrific, quickly bonding with the young girl. However, when the creature begins exhibiting disturbing features, as well a connection with Tinja. Then, her mother’s lover (Reino Nordin) as well as a young neighbor (Ida Määttänen) come into contact with the creature. As the danger grows, mother and daughter also come into conflict.
There are some very nice, and surprisingly understated, performances here, considering how wild things get. Siiri Solalinna in particular is great, while Sophia Heikkilä is top notch as well. The former is asked to do a lot, while the latter is tasked with slowly showing cracks in the perfect facade. Thier interactions, especially as the movie progresses, is truly engaging. Smaller roles for the likes of Ida Määttänen, Reino Nordin, Oiva Ollila, and Jani Volanen don’t leave as much room to shine, but they effectively do their parts. Supporting players include Saija Lentonen, among others, but Heikkilä and Solalinna are the highlights.
Director Hanna Bergholm really does make this a calling card film. Along with writer Ilja Rautsi, Bergholm really does establish herself someone to watch. The filmmaker embraces both the beauty and the horror of the premise, especially as Rautsi’s script heads towards a fairly savage conclusion. While a slightly tighter pacing wouldn’t have hurt, it’s clear that after seeing Hatching you’ll want to see what she does next. She’s chock full of talent, that’s for sure.
Hatching is wild. A fairly gnarly monster as message movie experience, this one gives you plenty to chew on by the end. While horror aficionados may want a bit more, those who enjoy the elevated style of fright flick will have a lot to like here. The creature even is one worth scoping out. It’s not a perfect movie, but it’s one well worth seeing.