I’ve been waiting to see Hatching for a while. I first saw the trailer a few months ago, and it’s been on my most-anticipated list ever since. The film looked like a bonkers fantasy-horror that sported one of the most bizarre premises I’ve seen in a while, and after getting a chance to watch it, I’m happy to report that the movie does not disappoint.
Hatching was directed by Hanna Bergholm, and it stars Siiri Solalinna, Sophia Heikkilä, Jani Volanen, Oiva Ollila, and Reino Nordin. It’s about a 12-year-old girl named Tinja whose family tries to present itself as the pinnacle of suburban perfection, and from the outside, they do a great job of it. But that all changes when Tinja finds a bird egg in the woods and takes it home with her. She cares for the egg and keeps it warm, and when it hatches, a monstrous bird creature emerges and quickly throws a deadly wrench into the family’s idyllic life.
If that sounds too weird for you, then don’t even bother with Hatching. I can’t give away any specifics without spoiling the film, but trust me, it gets even weirder than the plot synopsis lets on. This is way more than just a monster movie about a killer bird, so if you’re looking for a straightforward creature feature, you’re not going to find it here. Instead, this film sports a whole bunch of twists and turns that you won’t see coming, and for my money, it works on just about every level.
For starters, the main characters are excellent. Whether you’re supposed to love them or hate them, they all play their roles in the story just about perfectly, and that’s largely due to two things. First, the performances are all spot-on. The movie is in Finnish, so I can’t really judge their line delivery, but even with that barrier, I still bought into every single one of them 100%.
Secondly, Hatching does a great job of showing us who these characters are rather than just telling us about them. Unlike a lot of movies, this one lets you experience firsthand what these people are like, so you don’t have to take anybody’s word for it. You can see it for yourself, and that’s always much more convincing than mere exposition could ever be.
In particular, the movie really highlights two of its characters more than the others, and the entire story revolves around their relationship. On the one hand, we have Tinja’s mother, who’s the kind of hypocritical jerk you can’t help but love to hate. The family’s facade of perfection seems to be her idea, and she needs everybody and everything around her to be flawless. She even runs a blog where she shows off how awesome her everyday life is, but when you see what she’s really like, her inner ugliness easily matches her outer beauty.
On the other hand, we have Tinja herself, the main character. She tries to live up to her mother’s perfect expectations, and for the most part, she actually succeeds. But there are a few times when she falls short, and those instances quickly let you know just how much pressure her mother puts on her. It allows you to genuinely sympathize with her and feel her pain, so you begin to care about her and the journey she goes through.
These characters are the foundation of Hatching, and they ground the story from beginning to end. Then, when the horror comes in, the film adeptly builds on that foundation, and it uses its bizarre bird monster to great effect. The creature looks absolutely hideous, and director Hanna Bergholm does a good job of building tension when the thing goes on the attack.
But in my opinion, what really makes this movie stand out from its cinematic peers isn’t the fun, scary side of the horror. Sure, it works on that basic level, but there’s a lot more to it than just that. The monster is an obvious metaphor for Tinja’s family, and as the story goes on, the symbolism becomes more and more precise.
See, when the creature hatches, Tinja keeps it in her room and doesn’t tell anybody about it, so she has to hide it from her family just like they all try to hide their imperfections from the rest of the world. Then, as Hatching progresses and becomes weirder and weirder, that symbolism begins to home in on Tinja herself in a really interesting and creative way. Unfortunately, I can’t say much more than that without giving away some key spoilers, but the way I see it, this is the best thing about the entire movie.
All that being said, I have to acknowledge that Hatching isn’t a perfect film. There’s really not much to criticize about it, but there is one thing that I thought could’ve been done a bit better. The movie is only 87 minutes long, so it moves at a really brisk pace. It never stays on one plot point so long that you get bored with it, but that’s also a bit of a double-edged sword. I thought it was a little too fast-paced, so it probably would’ve worked better with an extra 15 minutes or so to let the story breathe a bit more.
But in the grand scheme of things, that’s a really minor criticism. I had an absolute blast with Hatching, and I enjoyed every second of it. Granted, it’s not going to be for everybody, but if you’re into bizarre creature features that just get weirder and weirder as they go on, I highly recommend that you give this one a shot.
Hatching hits VOD platforms and limited theaters on April 29.