If you have a dysfunctional family, Hatching (Pahanhautoja) is going to feel like a breath if fresh air. You and your family may have your differences, but at least you aren’t sneaking around behind each other’s backs, secretly raising a monster with a taste for blood. As far as creature features go, it’s much more restrained than a drive-in flick like Humanoids From The Deep, but Hatching‘s strength is in its subtly.
Directed by Hanna Bergholm from a screenplay by Ilja Rautsi, Hatching stars Siiri Solalinna, Sophia Heikkilä, Jani Volanen, and Reino Nordin. The Finnish film celebrated its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and will see a full release through IFC Midnight later this April.
“As a creature feature […] Hatching‘s strength is in its subtly”
Tinja (Solalinna) is a 12-year-old gymnast whose life is controlled by her social media-obsessed mother (Heikkilä). The entire family is the focal point of her blog “Lovely Everyday Life”, and wouldn’t you know it, she’s just got the best dang family an everyday Finnish woman could hope for. That is at least the image she’s selling hard to her followers. Her family too.
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After finding a wounded bird in the woods, Tinja brings home a mysterious egg. The egg grows rapidly and soon hatches. Tinja has done a pretty good job of hiding a giant, Flinstone-sized egg up until now but it becomes a harder secret to keep when the creature growing inside is set loose in the house. Part giant bird, part H.P. Lovecraft, this freaky freeloader quickly becomes a living nightmare, but also a dependant. Tinja is everything to this creature and like it or not, it’s a part of her life now.
Tinja is mother and sister and best friend to this little monster which means that cleaning up after it when it eats the neighborhood dog falls on her shoulders. And if the monster should one day decide to eat a baby; Well, that’s her problem too. What? You don’t want to bury a body? You should have thought of that before you decided to have a monster. If you’re a parent in need of seeing a 12-year-old girl get a taste of her own medicine (no judgment), Hatching might just be exactly what you’re looking for. But be warned that this low-key creature feature may have you confront some dark truths about yourself.
Tinja‘s mother has poisoned herself with her own public image and it’s turned her into a different shade of monster. She sees her family as nothing more than the cast and crew of her blog. She pushes Tinja physically and emotionally, and she’s openly seeing another man on the side, but everyone’s all smiles when the cameras are rolling.
“Part giant bird, part H.P. Lovecraft […ful] living nightmare…”
There’s a resentment smoldering inside Mother, portrayed with pained perfection by Sophia Heikkilä. Her final form in this grim fable as a manic, laser-focused monster slayer is topped only by Hatching‘s featured creature. It evolves over time from its grotesque beginnings settling on something as subtle as it is sinister. Sadly, it’s the 15 minutes after the film fades to black that I wanted to see the most. The story is climbing a hillside the whole movie and just as it’s about to take that last step off the cliff and soar, it plants a flag and calls it a day. When all the chess pieces that have been moving (and mutating) toward the finale are finally in place, it feels like we cut to credits when the opponent realizes their defeat, rather than after the other player has swooped in for the kill.
All vaugue descriptions aside, Hatching‘s chaotic finale isn’t without a brilliant detail or two that ties a bow on the dark heart beating inside this freaky Finnish flick. What starts as a dysfunctional family story slowly reveals itself to be a pitch-black exaggeration of living up to unreasonable expectations. As a creature feature, it could use a little more mayhem, but as a family drama it’s got a surprisingly funky monster and a hell of a lot of brutal honesty about living a lie. Remember: The truth will set you (and your monster child) free.
“As a creature feature, it could use a little more mayhem, but as a family drama it’s got a surprisingly funky monster…”
Hanna Bergholm’s Hatching celebrated its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and will be available in select theatres and digital/VOD beginning April 29, 2022 through IFC Midnight. Be sure to follow all of our Sundance 2022 coverage HERE and let us know what you thought of Hatching over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.