Hatching begins with a family making a video for the mother’s (Sophia Heikkilä) blog. Everything is choreographed so that they look like the perfect happy family. However, the scene is interrupted when a bird flies through the window and causes destructive chaos in its panic. Viewers won’t know it yet, but this shattering of manufactured happiness is genius foreshadowing of the darker events to come in Hana Borgholm’s feature debut.
Not long after the bird incident, 12-year-old gymnast Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) takes home an egg she finds outside and hides it in her room. As her mother begins to pressure her about an upcoming competition, the egg begins to grow until it hatches into a monstrous creature which the youngster names Alli (taking the name from the character in a lullaby). More than an average movie monster, Alli becomes a metaphor for Tinja’s repressed emotions and stress; an allegory made clearer as the plot progresses. In this regard, Hatching is a provocative and imaginative take on the coming-of-age-style tale that takes aim at the artificiality of social media.
While a collection of lacklustre and unoriginal scares won’t impress horror fans, the astonishing practical effects will. The creature design (which was helmed by teams who previously worked on Star Wars and The Dark Knight) is visceral and grotesque. Whether Alli is drooling an unpleasant ooze or reaching out a clawed hand, its sense of physical presence lends more weight to the onscreen threat, especially during the later scenes.
The symbolic significance of Alli is brilliant in its simplicity, though it can be a tad on the nose at times. Tinja regurgitating food can be understood as an eating disorder whereas one humorous moment sees her father (Jani Volanen) mistake blood on her bedsheets as menstruation instead of the gruesome remains of Alli’s misdeeds. Nevertheless, Ilja Rautsi’s script paints a powerful allegory of what happens when you model your life after unrealistic standards.
A peculiar and thoughtful tale of adolescence within the social media age, Hatching is a fantastically strange debut from Bergholm which is sure to catch the eye of cult audiences.
Hatching is released in select cinemas on 16th September 2022.
Watch the trailer for Hatching here: