New to UK video-on-demand platforms this week is the Finnish psychological horror movie, Hatching (aka Pahanhautoja). The movie – which is the feature film debut for director Hanna Bergholm – stars Siiri Solalinna and Sophia Heikkilä, and tells the story of a young girl who becomes the caretaker of a mysterious egg.
In the movie, Tinja is a pre-teen gymnast who lives a seemingly idyllic life with her mother, father, and brother. But one day, that life is briefly interrupted when a bird flies into her home and injures itself.
Seeing the injured bird, Tinja’s mother instantly kills the animal, to put it out of its misery, and tells her daughter to dispose of its body in the recycling bin outside. Tinja reluctantly agrees to her mother’s request, but feels very sorry for the creature, whose life was cut short.
That night, while Tinja is in bed, she hears a cry coming from outside. Upon investigation, she follows the noise into the woods, where she discovers the bird is still alive, but lay on the ground in pain.
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Tinja picks up a rock and kills it, making sure that this time the bird stays dead. Then, after bludgeoning the bird to death, she discovers a nearby nest, containing a single egg.
Feeling guilty for what she has done, Tinja takes the egg home to protect it. She keeps it warm in her bedroom, and over the next few days she watches as the egg grows considerably in size.
Eventually the egg hatches, and a fairly large bird emerges. But over time, this bird takes on human features, and grows increasingly attached to Tinja.
Strange, unusual, and at times kind of freaky, Hatching is an odd little movie which mixes psychological drama, with body horror. The film touches upon themes of motherhood and puberty, as well as the subjects of death and rebirth, and is a curious picture which is a little creepy, occasionally gross, and often quite unnerving.
The central thrust of the movie is about Tinja and her relationship to the bird as it grows and develops into something far beyond its initial form. However, running parallel to this story is an ongoing plot thread about Tinja’s relationship to her mother.
As with the bird in the story, Tinja’s mother is going through some kind of metamorphosis of her own, and this is having an impact on her daughter. Over the course of the movie, Tinja’s mother is keen to start up a new relationship (and a new family) outside of her current marriage, and this is something which she drags Tinja into.
As the film progresses, Tinja then finds herself with multiple headaches, as she has to balance problems with her mother, her surrogate child, and the trials and tribulations of being a pre-teen girl. All of this provides the film with enough material to keep things interesting, while still allowing room for plenty of horror.
From a bit of blood here, to some regurgitation there, Hatching knows when to delve into its darker moments and keep genre fans happy. And while I must admit I wasn’t completely invested in everything it presented, for the most part I believe Hatching works well.
All-in-all, a decent horror, with something to say. The film’s discussions about family life and mother/daughter relationships elevates its basic premise, while the freaky design of the creature adds some visual appeal.
Director Hanna Bergholm gets her film career off to a good start with this movie, and if body horror is your thing, then take a look. The young Siiri Solalinna, who plays Tinja, makes a great lead; some of the visuals are suitably disturbing; and there are enough ideas in the film to ensure it stays in the mind once the credits have rolled.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review on It’s A Stampede!. For more reviews, check out the recommended reads below.
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