HATCHING Movie Poster | ©2022 IFC Midnight

HATCHING Movie Poster | ©2022 IFC Midnight

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Siiri Solaninna, Sophia Heikkilä, Jani Volanen, Reino Nordin, Oiva Ollila
Writer: Ilja Rautsi
Director: Hanna Bergholm
Distributor: IFC Midnight
Release Date: April 29, 2022

HATCHING (PAHANHOUTOJA) is in Finnish, set in Finland. Its themes are fairly universal, though its details are marvelously specific.

Tinja (Siiri Solaninna) is a young teen gymnast with a seemingly perfect middle-class life. There’s vlogger Mom (Sophia Heikkilä), good-natured Dad (Jani Volanen), younger brother Matias (Oiva Ollila), together in a beautiful house in the suburbs.

But it’s not long before we see signs of strain. Mom’s vlog is entitled “Lovely Everyday Life,” and woe betide anyone or anything that threatens her idea of loveliness.

Mom is laser-focused on Tinja’s success in an upcoming gymnastics competition, much more so than Tinja herself. Mom therefore discourages Tinja from having friendships with other girls. Meanwhile, Mom rejects displays of affection from her little boy Matias, and glowingly tells Tinja of her affair with handyman Tero (Reino Nordin).

When a bird gets loose in the living room and knocks things over, Tinja is able to gently capture it, but Mom kills it. At least, that’s what we think, but Tinja later finds the injured bird in the woods. By then, she feels compelled to put it out of its misery. She also finds the bird’s egg, which Tinja takes home to keep warm.

This is no ordinary egg. It glows where Tinja touches it, and it also grows to unusual size. And when it hatches …

Unlike a lot of movies that want to traffic in metaphor only to botch the analogy, HATCHING actually knows what it’s doing. Writer Ilja Rautsi and director Hanna Bergholm have crafted a piece that deftly combines solid horror with a coming-of-age parable that also has emotional resonance.

Tinja, unable to stand up for herself, has maternal tenderness for what comes forth from the egg. The hatchling in turn displays great affection for its adoptive mother. HATCHING takes some unpredictable steps from here, where we may suppose its going in one direction, and then it veers in another. At the climax, everything comes together almost seamlessly.

The hatchling goes through several transformations. Its initial look – Julian Murray is credited as the creature designer – is equal parts scary and adorable, like something Jim Henson’s Workshop might have done for a horror movie.

Solanninna is thoughtful and nuanced. The young gymnastics performers are all impressive in their physical abilities. Heikkilä is adept at conveying the outward smugness and inner insecurity of the difficult mother, and Nordin is surprisingly likable as her lover, who is sensible and compassionate (to a point).

While HATCHING takes place in Finland, which provides some nice new vistas for audiences unfamiliar with the country, it could easily take place anywhere where parents can become more consumed with appearances than realities. Even more, it could happen anywhere that young girls have to come to terms with where they stand when it comes to parental expectations and projections.

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