Film review: ‘HATCHING’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

There’s something about the perceived pristine idyll of Scandinavian society that makes horror films from that part of the world all the more creepy; just have a look at Ari Aster’s Midsomer.  Another addition to that subgenre is Finnish body horror film Hatching.  This menacing slow burn film plays on childhood concerns about pleasing demanding parents and young female anxieties about sexuality, reproduction and approaching womanhood to create one of the more intriguingly odd skin crawlers of recent times.  It also examines another creeping menace, the desperate and damaging need many have to present a clinical and curated version of their lives on social media.

Siiri Solalinna plays 12-year-old gymnast, Tinja, who seems to be constantly trying to live up to her overbearing mother’s (Sophia Heikkila) lofty expectations.  We quickly learn that all isn’t quite right with mother as she produces a weirdly delusional online videoblog about her supposedly perfect family called ‘lovely everyday life’ and when a crow flies into the family home and damages part of that spotless, antiseptic world, she brutally dispatches it.  After finding that crow’s egg in the forest, Tinja feels compelled to care for it, bringing it home and nurturing it in her bed.  As the egg mysteriously grows, audiences will start to realise that Tinja should have watched the film Alien to understand the dangers of poking around with weird eggs as something hideous is bound to burst out of it.

Director Hanna Bergholm (in her first feature) was apparently inspired by modern horror classics such as Let the Right One in, Suspiria, The Babadook and the Nicole Kidman film The Others which, like Hatching, use horror themes and imagery as a way of externalising powerful and destructive emotions.  Bergholm is clearly a talent to watch as she conjures eerie and evocative scenes not only from familiar horror settings such as mist-shrouded forests but also from everyday suburban life.

This film’s success as horror and drama rests largely on its ability to forge an emotional connection with the central character, Tinja.  It does this extremely well with Siiri Solalinna delivering a wonderful performance as the determined yet sensitive, socially isolated and often emotionally fraught youngster.   Her gnawing self-doubt, compassion for the creature she saves and alarm at what she may have unleashed, makes her a wonderfully compelling figure.

The film offers some decent pop-out scares but doesn’t overuse this technique.  Also, being of the ‘body horror’ sub-genre, it has a couple of grotesque scenes, at times involving vomit.  There are also some oddball comic moments that are as creepy as the horror elements.

While Bergholm orchestrates events on screen impressively she is working with a limited plot and at times it feels as if we’re watching a short film slightly padded to feature length.

While not a revelatory horror film, Hatching is a tense and unnerving tale of something sinister lurking in suburbia and a fine feature debut for Bergholm.

Nick’s rating:    1/2

Genre: Horror/ drama.

Classification: MA15+.

Director(s): Hanna Bergholm.

Release date: 26th May 2022.

Running time: 87 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.

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