Disturbing but poignant, Hatching is one of those films that puts a magnifying glass on a seemingly normal family and shows how cracked their private lives really are. Much of the opening is shot with handheld cameras that add a sense of realism as the mother Aiti (Sophia Heikkila) uses her phone to film their household, saying she wants to show her blog viewers what a loving Finnish family is like. In the middle of filming, a crow comes flying through the window and promptly smashes the various glass objects that decorate their living room. I find it fitting that their peace is so easily shattered and this idea is supported as the film moves on and the daughter Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) discovers an egg which she promptly brings inside, determined to watch it hatch.
These two are the focus while the father takes his place as the meek and non-argumentative sort that turns a blind eye to problems like his wife’s affair. Meanwhile the son Matias (Oiva Ollila) is rambunctious and has a nose for trouble. Their habits are revealed as Tinja hides the egg and struggles with gymnastics, a sport she seems to enjoy at first before her mother’s pressure twists it into a burden. Tinja has no choice but to turn to the egg, and like many mothers, tries to put a blanket over her own problems while caring for others.
Yes, the egg does hatch and what emerges is disturbing and a bit silly, resembling a bird or dinosaur one might find on an old BBC documentary. But director Hanna Bergholm embraces this creature and the transformation it undergoes as Tinja gives more of herself to it, even as it threatens the neighborhood pets or those that might be perceived as a threat. They share a bond and their link forged in a tumultuous household reminded me of the underrated show Surface about a teenage boy raising a strange aquatic animal. There are differences of course. The creature from Surface was quite cute while the animal in Hatching that Tinja eventually names Alli is fittingly gruesome just like the movie.
One refreshing aspect of the story involves Tinja meeting her mother’s lover; a humble workman named Tero (Reino Nordin) who is decent to a point, having his own limits, but still points out that Aiti is selfish and blind to her own daughter’s struggles. Normally characters like this appear in horror to be a jerk or easy victim to add a higher body count. Since the film builds up so well, we are prepared for anything. The plot wastes no time, and while a bit more could be shown about the creature or the family, we get what we came for.
The struggles of parenthood are numerous and Hatching lifts the lid off many of them. Tinja feels internal and external pressures that are rough on adults, let alone children. The actions of her mother collide with the inactions of her father throughout the story and the idea that any of the seemingly happy families posting on social media could hide abuse is disturbing in and of itself. Hatching doesn’t shy away from sounds and sights that society would consider undignified, even if many of them revolve around the simple ideas of raising and feeding children. That being said, don’t eat before watching this film. It gleefully oozes with disturbing situations and there aren’t enough like it. A sharp thrill-ride to be sure!
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