Hatching (2022) is the feature film debut of the director Hanna Bergholm, and it is the kind of horror film that I truly enjoy watching. On its surface, there are plenty of things for fans of the genre to embrace, from body horror, a few solid jump-scares, and an interesting premise. Then – if you are willing to dig a little deeper – you’ll find that there are a number of things to discover and read into. Allegorical horror is often the best place to explore difficult real-world issues.
Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) is a 12-year-old gymnast who desperately wants to earn the approval of her demanding mother (Sophia Heikkilä). After disposing of a pesky bird that wrecked much of the family’s idyllic living room, Tinja discovers an egg. She keeps it hidden and warm until it hatches, but none of them are prepared for what was growing inside.
This appears to be Solalinna’s debut, and she is asked to carry the bulk of this film. For the most part, she is quite successful with all the things she is asked to do. This is a horror film, but the tone changes quite a bit – and Solalinna is up for the task. There is one particular scene where her mother reveals a secret that would upset any child, but Tinja is constantly trying to win her mother’s affection. Therefore, Tinja must react as if she is upset but must try and hide it simultaneously. Solalinna’s performance at that moment really cemented her talent and reinforces Bergholm’s as well.
The body horror in this film absolutely stood out. The creature design – which I’ll refrain from describing, as I think it’s best to go in mostly cold to what the film is doing – is quite outstanding. It is both troubling and compelling to see the phases the creature goes through. A majority of the story is told through the thing that comes from the egg, and if the look of it didn’t work, the movie would likely fall apart. There are gross moments, but most of them have thematic connections to justify them being done. I can’t stop thinking of all the various meanings the film could be going for, and that is ultimately why I liked it so much.
Hatching is definitely a film worth checking out. It played at the Sundance Film Festival this past January and will be in limited release on April 29, 2022. If you are a fan of horror and have a way to see the film, I certainly recommend it. Hatching earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.