Hatching – Pahanhautoja (2022)
Directed by: Hanna Bergholm | 91 minutes | horror | Actors: Siiri Solalinna, Sophia Heikkilä, Jani Volanen, Reino Nordin, Oiva Ollila, Ida Määttänen, Ida Määttänen, Stella Leppikorpi, Hertta Nieminen, Aada Punakivi, Hertta Karen, Jonna Aaltonen, Miroslava Agejeva
Petite Tinja does a gymnastics until the skins fall from her hands. The Teflon-smile-equipped mother prefers to see her daughter win on the livestream at the upcoming national gymnastics tournament. Then suddenly a wild bird flutters into Tinja’s house. The intruder is seriously injured. Mother turns the neck of the animal and daughter has to dump it with the garden waste. Moments later, it turns out that it is still breathing and has even laid an egg. Out of guilt, Tinja secretly takes care of the egg until a beak-like and misshapen creature crawls out. Hatching is anything but a happy Easter egg, it’s an outright nightmare from the mother’s nest.
Director Hanna Bergholm’s feature debut shows an archetype mother who lives completely for and through her children. The mother in the film herself once had a short-lived skating career, but it never got off the ground. So daughter Tinja, in appearance a copy, should excel for her. She reminds Tinja that you can always cut out an imperfection in an Instagram post, but not from a live stream.
Bergholm’s film deals with the horror in everyday family life, the things that cannot bear the light of day and yet take place before all our eyes. Bright Ikea light dominates in the film, even during the day, whiter than white, and this is recorded in crystal clear digital format, such as the summer fever dream ‘Midsommar’ (Ari Aster, 2019). In this case, the lamp on the bedside table does nothing against the nocturnal brood, the darkest imaginings. Isn’t horror in the daylight more frightening than at night, these films seem to wonder.
The pulpy visual effects in ‘Hatching’ are a nostalgic trip to the animatronics and body horror of the eighties. The bird brood Alli resembles a cross between the beak-mouthed creatures in ‘The Dark Crystal’ (Jim Henson, Frank Oz, 1982) and the transformed professor Seth Brundle in ‘The Fly’ (David Cronenberg, 1986). Just like in Cronenberg’s body horror classic, Tinja’s physical trauma manifests itself according to an eerily precise meter and you can set the clock to the horrors. Nevertheless, her fate unexpectedly creeps under the skin.
Finally, ‘Hatching’ has a good pinch of gallows humor that rubs against satire on ‘the perfect picture’ of social media. Tinja’s mother’s quest for online perfection leads to a painfully ironic catharsis for the family, one that relies not mainly on the horror effect itself but on the underlying family trauma. Perhaps the film here is a bit too calculated and lazy in its judgment. However, whether you agree with the social critique or not, ‘Hatching’ certainly offers enough food for thought and will leave you trembling a few times anyway.