April 29th, 2022
STARRING: SIIRI SOLALINNA, SOPHIA HEIKKILA, JANI VOLANEN
DIRECTED BY: HANNA BERGHOLM
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
If you watch enough movies your taste in cinema tends to shift and change, where the absurd and weird becomes what you look for in a story. It’s because of these ever evolving cinematic taste buds as to why Hatching was a delightful discovery of strangeness for me. Director Hanna Bergholm begins with one big happy family of four. The instant theme we grasp is a sheen of perfection. A house filled with white decor, a constantly smiling mother, using her selfie stick to capture a recent video she’s recording for her lifestyle blog. When daughter Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) decides to open up the window, a bird flies through the house, destroying a crystal chandelier, and succumbing to a painful death at the hands of the mother. It’s what happens after where Hatching becomes something entirely different, with the young girl becoming a protector in her own way, and we witness the growth of a wild bird-like monster. Hatching is about taking care of others, about a girl learning to have her own voice, and a haunting bird creature that will fail to escape your mind. Hatching is the birth of a fantastic new creature feature.
At the center of Hatching is the theme of relationships between mothers and daughters. The husband (Jani Volanen) is an emasculated and voiceless pushover, willing to approve of everything his wife wants, while the youngest son Tero (Reino Nordin) is much too interested in his video games to even care about his parents. For Tinja, however, she would like to become great at gymnastics one day, but her mother is also adding to the pressure. When the practice is delivering less than stellar results that don’t live up to mother’s standards, there’s a fracture within the family. Secretly on the side, Tinja has discovered a lone egg that the destructive bird had been trying to care for. Now it becomes Tinja’s responsibility, vowing to be the mother that the animal has lost, but only we find out that it’s not just a baby bird, but a rapidly mutating, killing for blood, half-human-half bird creature. It quickly is revealed that polly wants blood instead of a cracker.
The screenplay is written by Ilja Rautsi, who is playing around with her narrative structure, allowing the respected characters to go to their corners, with mother constantly interested in herself, while daughter Tinja escapes to her room with an egg that starts small and quickly becomes bigger than the bed. With each step in the direction by Hanna Bergholm, she cranks the anticipation of what the creature would look like, and the final reveal is not disappointing. The bird creature is a mixture of a half crow or half human. The teeth are jagged like a shark, while the larger than life eyes draw us in, inhabited in the body of a feathered puppet. The narrative does nicely of balancing Tinja’s personal struggles while trying to keep the monster under lock and key. It slowly develops into the parents being too preoccupied to understand that it takes more than a faux Instagram picture to create a family. Tinja is up to the task but then her bird creature starts hurting people.
From a creative standpoint, there are a lot of artistic phases in Hatching that I loved. The set design is tight and claustrophobic, pressing the family into literal tight situations, where being around one another is half the battle. And then there is the gorgeous massive egg, often glowing, which turns into a beast reminiscent of The Dark Crystal. It’s that absurd nature, where a world exists of massive birds, turning into killers, which draws me near. You add the cinematography from Jarkko T. Laine, which is reminiscent of the work of Tim Burton, in a world where the house looks like a miniature, and an egg is larger than a big child’s bed.
From the sound of it Hatching may seem like a one-trick-pony but I assure there’s much more to it. Yes, there are the scenes of the bird-beast killing people that have wronged Tinja. There are also long segments in her room as the relationship between the child and her new egg evolves into her own motherhood. But the longer she delays the bird, continuing to keep it caged, the more the animal evolves into something more, longing for a free existence. That’s the theme, where the pressures that the mother has placed on her own child start to be passed on to younger generations. Only this isn’t the kind of bird you keep as a pet. In fact, Hatching is a new kind of terror, poking it’s way out of its shell, and ready to spread it’s frightening new wings.
HATCHING IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS THIS FRIDAY APRIL 29TH AND AVAILABLE ON DEMAND MAY 17TH, 2022
Written by: Leo Brady