Horrors of Motherhood are Hatching (2022) In Exceptional Finnish Film
First Non-Festival Release: March 4, 2022 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Hanna Bergholm
Writer: Hanna Bergholm
Runtime: 86 Minutes
Starring: Siiri Solalinna, Sophia Heikkilä, Reino Nordin
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Tinja (Siiri Solalinna), a young gymnast, lives a cozy life in her quaint Finnish suburb. Her mother (Sophia Heikkilä) is a mommy blogger and influencer who exerts quite a high amount of pressure on her daughter to be perfect. Her father (Jani Volanen) is absent and her brother Matias (Oiva Ollila) is a menace. One day, after a crow gets in the house and breaks quite a bit of their valuables, Tinja has a nightmare where she kills a bird but takes her egg to protect it. She awakens to find that this was more than a dream, as the egg she brought home is underneath her pillow. Her picture-perfect life is turned upside down once the egg hatches and Alli is born.
Hatching balances heavy themes of neglect, family, and growing up in the internet edge with a heaping helping of coming-of-age horror.
Brilliant in concept and production, everything about Hatching feels meticulously crafted to tell a timely tale on perfectionism and appearance. Guttural screeches, interminable banging, and clawing scrapes build into a chorus of horror as Hatching crescendos its aural assault on viewers. The creature effects are top notch too. Initial revulsion from the spine-tingling creature inside the egg subsides into bewilderment as it slowly morphs into something even more terrifying. Perfectly paced, this creature feature is bizarre and shocking without resorting to anything gratuitous.
Reading more like a dark fairy tale, Hatching leans into the fantastical story elements that progress the story further. There is so much originality behind how the action gets started and how it progresses. Before it evolves into something more universal, it begins with a simple comparison between mother and daughter, the first of many. When a bird breaks into their home, Tinja’s mother reacts coldly, killing it out of revenge and annoyance. During Tinja’s nightmare walk in the woods she must kill a bird too, only she does so out of compassion to end its suffering. Soon, she is gifted with an egg of her own, a credit to the maternal nature breaking through her. The creature hatches from the egg appears birdlike at first before transforming into something more human. Tinja’s love and belief fuels its growth before it backfires on her in the form of uncontrollable fury whenever Tinja’s emotions stray from steady.
Hatching is committed to its nuanced take on families and the struggles girls face when taking in messages from their mothers and society at large. Dysfunctional families hide underneath perfect appearances. Between the selfish brother, the willfully ignorant father, and the delusional mother, Tinja never has a chance to truly thrive. It's no shock that she initially seeks out comfort in Allie both in nurturing her and having Allie reciprocate. Loneliness feeds into Tinja intentionally separating herself from others, mostly because she does not have friends, initiating an eating disorder and body dysmorphia, and pushing her to lie to her family about everything to preserve appearances.
There is also distinct messaging about coming into womanhood. There are several parallels to traditional coming-of-age moments that are circumvented due to her mother’s focus on her mommy blog. In the end, Tinja’s mother kills part of her for this new Tinja to emerge. The perfectionism driven into Tinja by her mother drives her to seek love and motherhood in her own creation. She takes on the role so young and is forced to see her bad decisions and untethered emotions hurt those around her.
There are so many layers to Tinja and her mother’s relationship but what hits the hardest is how Tinja never feels stable in her mother’s love. This dynamic is largely thanks to the two actresses working together to convey their bond. Siiri Solalinna gives an exceptional duel performance which lets her stretch her acting chops. The pain in her eyes even before Allie begins taking over her life is evident by how much her mother’s love means to her. The fact that it is always just out of reach hurts even more. Sophia Heikkilä’s take on a Mother who seeks the control of maintaining visibility as a perfect example of motherhood borders on the sinister yet sympathetic.
What separates Hatching from other body horror films is its commitment to savaging multiple institutions while delivering on quality scares and drama. The nuclear family, social media, and socialization of teenage girls are all on the chopping block here. Director Hanna Bergholm crafts an expert take down while providing gnarly imagery and nasty kills. As uncomfortable as it is shocking, Hatching is an important film that transcends its high concept premise and evolves into something as wonderous and wild as its central antagonist. Horror fans with an appetite for Scandinavian horror will rejoice in the nightmarishly complex offering that is Hatching.
Overall Score? 8/10