Hatching (CREDIT: Andrejs Strokins/IFC Midnight)

Starring: Siiri Solalinna, Sophia Heikkilä, Jani Volanen, Oiva Ollila, Reino Nordin

Director: Hanna Bergholm

Running Time: 87 Minutes

Rating: Unrated (But Gnarly Enough for an R)

Release Date: April 29, 2022 (Theaters)/May 17, 2022 (Digital/VOD)

I am excited to spread the word about Hatching, the debut feature from Finnish director Hanna Bergholm. If memory serves me correctly, it’s the first Finnish film I’ve ever seen, and appropriately enough, it’s an auteurist vision that I’ve never quite experienced before. If you’re a horror hound who’s wondering how the Finns spook each other, this would make for a fine introduction. It’s about a 12-year-old girl who forms a unique bond with a ravenous bird-like creature, so if you find that premise eminently relatable, you’re in the right place.

Right from Hatching‘s start (or hatching, as it were), it’s clear that the worst impulses of the YouTube era have made their way to the northernmost reaches of Europe, as the vlogger mom (Sophia Heikkilä) introduces us to her “Lovely and Ordinary Finnish Family.” But that picture-perfect image is quickly punctured when a crow flies into the house from out of nowhere. Young Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) is curious about the bird, but her mom breaks its neck and tells Tinja to throw it in the trash. But that was just a harbinger of what’s to come, as Tinja discovers a giant egg that she brings into her bedroom, only to quickly realize that’s she invited much more than she bargained for.

There aren’t a whole lot of cinematic avian monsters out there, and this one’s a doozy. Tinja is hoping that she’s made a friend, as she names the creature “Alli.” But really it’s more of a hellspawn and avenging angel, as it decapitates the neighbor’s dog and then starts taking aim at everyone else who’s ever wronged Tinja. And it’s not like her day-to-day isn’t already stressful enough, what with Mom pressuring her to be the absolute best at gymnastics and the revelation that she’s also starting a new family on the side with her hunky boyfriend (Reino Nordin). Meanwhile, straitlaced khaki-wearing Dad (Jani Volanen) remains blissfully unaware of pretty much everything going on around him until it’s too late.

Hatching easily works as a metaphor about adolescence, with Alli representing a body transforming into something shockingly unfamiliar. Not to mention, the mother-daughter strife that can be so typical of this period is in full force. But I couldn’t help but also make the connection to another recent horror flick that has very little to do with puberty, as Tinja’s visions of Alli stalking her prey are reminiscent of the shared death visions in Malignant. With that in mind, Hatching is really about the terror of being a human with a body who has familial connections, particularly when Alli starts to become Tinja’s doppelgӓnger and threatens to take over her life. Sometimes our own impulses or the ones of those closest to us are the most terrifying of all.

Hatching is Recommended If You Like: Turning Red, Malignant, Single White Female

Grade: 4 out of 5 Giant Eggs