Coming of age comes with its own unique brand of horror, and this is explored quite literally in the new film Hatching.
Opening in select theaters on April 29, 2022 and becoming available On Digital/VOD May 17th via IFC Midnight, Hatching is the debut feature from Finnish Director Hanna Bergholm. The store follows twelve-year-old Tinja (Siiri Solalinna), an inspiring gymnast who desperately wants to please her mother (Sophia Heikkilä: Syke TV Series, Duel 2022). Unfortunately, this is a seemingly impossible task as Tinja’s image obsessed mother is far more concerned with presenting the perfect picture of her family on her popular vlog than engaging properly with her daughter.
When Tinja finds an egg in the forest, she brings it home and nurtures it, unaware of the creature stirring within. Tinja is going through a difficult time in her life. She is developing into a young woman and entering adolescence. However, in spite of that she is still very much a child and has a childlike mindset. Tinja is torn between being in a world of children and a world of adults, a
feeling which is not helped by her mother’s divulgences to her about the affair that she is having. Whilst Tinja pretends to understand the behavior of the adults around her, it is clear that she is only saying and doing what she thinks is expected of her.
Hatching explores the idea of perfection and expectation, particularly in relation to women. Women are often expected to be and look a certain way, to say certain things and to uphold certain roles. Even at a very young age, Tinja knows this and whilst her mother for the most part behaves rather atrociously, she also suffers from seeking an impossible perfection. With this sort of pressure and stress comes a myriad of other feelings and emotions, and the way that Hatching manifests those emotions as something very real and monstrous is a very clever metaphor.
The creature itself is incredibly effective. Bergholm employed the use of Creature Designer Gustav Hoegen and Effects Artist Conor O’Sullivan to create the creature that hatches from the egg, and the result is a curious hybrid of both gruesome and endearing. The decision to use animatronics and practical effects over CGI makes the creature feel more tangible and the relationship with Tinja feel more precarious and vulnerable.
Visually, Hatching again plays into a dual mindset. The film is a daylight horror with spring colors and light, airy spaces. In Hatching, all the real darkness is hidden away. Characters mask their real emotions and keep them locked deep within themselves, just as the creature is kept hidden under Tinja’s bed or in her wardrobe. Though the visuals work well metaphorically, cinematographically Hatching sometimes feels a little flat and often has a more televisual feel. The film also marks the debut of Siiri Solalinna as Tinja. A highly impressive debut, Solalinna is fantastic playing a role which requires both a duality and a physicality that she brings effortlessly. She will certainly be someone to look out for in the future.
Hatching is often strange, often gruesome but always fascinating. Though the metaphors come thick and fast, and are not hard to decipher, they are incredibly apt and relatable. The film plumps for body horror over jump scares as well as tension, and whilst this works well thematically, avid Horror fans may miss the lack of suspense and fear inducing moments. That being said, Hatching is still an assured and thoughtful debut and will certainly appeal to those who enjoy the weird and wonderful side of horror. That is why Cryptic Rock gives it 3.5 out of 5 stars.