The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema] - HATCHING | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema] - HATCHING

hatching review
A lonely girl nurtures a bird as it takes on a terrifying form.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Hanna Bergholm

Starring: Siiri Solalinna, Sophia Heikkilä, Jani Volanen, Reino Nordin, Oiva Ollil

hatching poster

If the Brothers Grimm were around today they'd probably be a pair of bearded hipster filmmakers with a cult fanbase. They might make movies like Hatching. Director Hanna Bergholm's feature debut has all the ingredients of a classic dark fairy tale: a put-upon young heroine, a domineering matriarch and of course, a monster from the woods. Bergholm takes these classic elements and wraps them in a very modern veneer through a critique of social media-driven image obsession.

hatching review

Our young heroine is 12-year-old gymnast Tinja (Siiri Solalinna). She lives a seemingly idyllic life in a posh Finnish suburb with her family. At least that's how it's presented in the clip from her mother's (Sophia Heikkilä) latest well-tailored video for her popular mommy blogger channel. Tinja is actually quite miserable, thanks to her mother's obsession with pushing her daughter to win a gymnastics competition. Her father is inattentive and her little brother is a miniature asshole.

Tinja's life is shaken up when a raven gets into the family home, causing havoc in the living room as it knocks over her mom's ornaments and trinkets. When Tinja captures the bird, her mom immediately snaps its neck and throws it in the trash. The bird is still alive however. Hearing its howls of pain that night, Tinja sneaks out and puts it out of its misery by bashing its head in with a rock. Next to the bird she finds an unhatched egg, which she takes to her bedroom and looks after as it grows to alarming proportions.

hatching review

What hatches is initially a bird-like creature not unlike something you might find in one of Jim Henson's darker movies. If its movements feel like that of a dinosaur, it's likely down to the creature being created by animatronic designer Gustav Hoegen. He worked on Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and there's one particular shot in Hatching that feels like a direct nod to that movie. As the bird grows it begins to shed its feathers, then its beak, as it gradually takes on a human form with a disturbing similarity to Tinja. The girl and the creature seem to share a sort of telekinesis, with the latter sensing those deemed a threat to the former. This leads the creature to undertake a violent rampage as it mines Tinja's darkest thoughts and acts upon them.

Solalinna is a revelation in the dual role of the sad-eyed Tinja and her monstrous doppelganger. Bergholm and writer Ilja Rautsi ensure that their young protagonist is relatably childlike. Unlike the smart-ass kids of so many movies, Tinja is innocent and clueless, which is why she is so easily manipulated by her mother, and why it takes a monster from the id for her to finally assert herself. Tinja's mother may be a stock fairy tale villain, but again, Bergholm and Rautsi have created a very human figure, one who seems to carry her own sadness beneath the visage she puts on for the world. At one point she mentions her nerves before the skating competitions she entered as a child, and it's clear that she's perpetuating what amounts to a cycle of abuse.

hatching review

The fake veneer of Tinja's mother extends to the world the film plays out in. Akin to the colourful presentation of 1950s suburban America in Bob Balaban's Parents, Bergholm's film takes place largely in daylight, in well-furnished bedrooms and manicured lawns where secrets are buried. Bergholm seems as curious about the darkness of middle class Finland as David Lynch is of its American equivalent. Hatching ends with a moment of contemplation that suggests another dark secret is set to be hidden for the sake of keeping up appearances.

 is in UK/ROI cinemas from September 16th.

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