Part social commentary, part creature-feature, Finnish thriller Hatching succeeds in large part because it commits so diligently to its conceit, as out there as it is. Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) is the teenage daughter in a picture-perfect family; Mother (Sophia Heikkilä) makes sure of it by holding timid Father (Jani Volanen), young son Tero (Reino Nordin) and Tinja to the standard of perfection her social followers and blog readers have come to expect. An aspiring gymnast who can never quite make the cut, Tinja finds an abandoned egg one night and, desperate to have something in her life that she can control, fosters it as it grows…and grows. She forms something of a bond with the egg, parts of her and her emotions being absorbed by this curious thing she’s hiding in her room. What eventually hatches wreaks more than havoc on this perfect family’s crumbling façade, a half-bird, half-human thing determined to protect its beloved Tinja at all costs.
Filmmaker Hanna Bergholm, working from a script by Ilja Rautsi, explores the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters in a genre that doesn’t typically lend itself to this dynamic. Solalinna carries the weight of Tinja’s overextended life, her stress and heartbreak and insecurities, with a maturity beyond her years, and Heikkilä convincingly blends the sweet and the sinister required to be as successful as Mother is. The effects here are believable (and original) enough—graphic and gory and just realistic enough to be feasible—and make the creature’s eventual emergence as a force bent on tearing this family apart all the more intense. If the film’s first two thirds are a quiet rumble, a family coming apart at the seams, the final act more than makes up for it with a brutal conclusion that couldn’t have gone any other way.
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