Hatching (2022)

Rating: B

Dir: Hanna Bergholm
Star: Siiri Solalinna, Sophia Heikkilä, Jani Volanen, Oiva Ollila
a.k.a. Pahanhautoja

At first, I thought this was going to be one of those annoying “elevated horror” movies, where the monster is actually just a metaphor for something. Depression. Domestic abuse. The Second Peloponnesian War. Whatever. It does begin feeling like it will be going down this route. On the surface, aspiring gymnast Tinja (Solalinna, in an excellent performance) has a perfect life with a loving family, featured in the video blog of her Mum (Heikkilä). Except, that’s largely an illusion, as we quickly discover when a bird is inconsiderate enough as to disrupt the artificial perfection. Beyond that, her mother is cheating on Dad (Volanen), little brother Matias (Ollila) hates her, and new next-door neighbour is better than Tinja at gymnastics. 

This is when Tinja finds a mysterious egg, and incubates it in her room until it hatches, giving birth this thing which looks initially like a chicken embryo. It’s not long before it begins “protecting” her, and taking care of Tinja’s problems, unbidden. For example, the neighbour’s dog which bit her? Decapitated and left as a “present” beside Tinja’s bed. It’s not like she specifically wished them ill. But if the creature perceives any kind of threat, it reacts, and the approach is more or less, “if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” You suspect her brother, her rival and Mum’s lover might be next on the monster’s to-do list. Yes, and no. For there’s a point where you realize what it is becoming, and the whole story shifts, for the better.

I don’t want to reveal specifics, so let’s just say, this becomes a more straightforward monster movie. There’s a wonderful scene where Mum – who, for want of a better description, looks and acts like Leslie Knope on coke – finally realizes what’s going on. Everything for which she has blamed her daughter, isn’t Tinja’s fault (or, at least, not entirely). She proves remarkably adept at adjusting her mind-set to this new abnormal. Then again, just about everyone here demonstrates that famous Scandinavian tolerance and acceptance, beyond the point at which even the most liberal of Americans would be running for the gun cabinet. This applies across the board, e.g. Dad cares more about his new electric guitar than his wife’s affair.

The finale has Mum and Tinja teaming up to go after the cuckoo in the nest; however, there’s one problem. We’ve already established that if Tinha is hurt, the creature is too. This poses a dilemma. More for Tinja than Mum, because we saw with her brutal and direct reaction to the invasive bird in the beginning, that she has a zero tolerance approach to anything threatening the perception of her perfect family lifestyle. It ends, in a somewhat inconclusive fashion, yet a way I found more than satisfactory. There are depths here, to be sure, yet it works perfectly well on a more visceral and shallow level too. This is everything M3GAN wanted to be, and then some.