This review is a translation of Pedro's original Portuguese-language review of Hatching on Fala Visual.
An egg enters the life of Tinja, a 12-year-old girl who practices gymnastics and suffers daily pressure from her mother, a Finnish social influencer who always wants her daughter to be the best. Keeping the egg under her pillow, she soon realizes that this is not an egg like any other. As Tinja’s maternally-inflicted pressures increase, the egg grows in stride. One day, the egg finally hatches, and a cute but strange creature emerges that the girl adopts as her own.
That set-up could very well be the beginning of a beautiful children’s tale, but it’s revealed rather quickly that the creature is not quite what it seems to be. The story takes a violent turn (albeit satisfyingly so), as Tinja's most hidden desires make themselves known. The young girl thus understands that what unites her with this strange creature goes far beyond the ordinary.
Avoiding spoilers is essential to get as much as you can out of this unique experience. Of course, the transitionary stage of Tinja's life is not selected by chance. It’s easy to relate to the insecurities of burgeoning adolescence. She wants to achieve more, but she seems to want that much more to please her mother’s desires than herself. As she discovers herself, the girl also comes to understand that those who demand perfection from her are far from living that same perfection.
In the midst of a totally dysfunctional family – from an abusive and unfaithful mum to a passive and enabler dad, not to mention a super annoying younger brother – it's easy to side with Tinja. Even if she doesn't always make the best decision, she is young enough to be receptive to parental advice that she is just not receiving. She does find support in the strange creature, whom she nicknames Alli.
I admit that I was expecting a more introspective and dubious film in its possible interpretations and events, one of those works that demands a lot from the audience in order to capture everything it potentially wants to tell. Hatching is actually pretty straightforward, which for me, as a big horror fan, was a pleasant surprise. The metaphors – from the process of self-discovery to the concept of being a mirror of whoever is closest to us – are all there. However, the film also works quite well for those who are simply looking for an intriguing suspense story with some strong body horror in the mix, bold and shocking when least expected.
If, from a technical point of view, the cinematography is something that immediately catches your attention, the practical effects will delight the fans of this type of horror. Nevertheless, Hatching is a movie that depends a great deal on its characters and their relatability. Such is the case for Tinja, with all the multidimensionality that her character represents, but it especially rings true for the tense family dynamics. Siiri Solalinna's interpretation of Tinja is very close to perfection, confirming, once again, that child actors today are much more intuitive than they once were.
From a narrative point of view, although its conclusion is not entirely satisfactory, it is worth praising that the film never took the easy way out, exploring unexpected and even more Cronenbergian territories than one would expect for a movie about a prepubescent girl. Its more explicit scenes may alienate more sensitive audience members, but they are crucial to understanding that, despite what it seems to be, this is anything but a children’s story.
Hatching is a film that conveys a clear metaphorical message even with its bouts of candid violence. It boasts strong artistic elements in its folklorish invention but embraces its horror aspects in a bold and explicit way. Although at times it feels that it could have gone even further, the directions that the film chooses are executed efficiently and convincingly. It is only director Hanna Bergholm's debut, so I anticipate many good films to come.
Hatching is available to rent on Youtube, Amazon Prime and AppleTV.