Skip to content

John’s Horror Corner: Hatching (2022; aka Pahanhautoja), an emotionally rough Finnish horror that feels as much like a dark contemporary fantasy.

September 28, 2022

MY CALL:  A lovely, twisted fairy tale for lovers of dark fantasy, emotionally challenging content, and gross transformation.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Hatching: Another likewise bizarre film comes to mind as a perfect double-feature option… Vivarium (2019). Maybe even Men (2022) as well. For more “family therapy” horror, go for The Twin (2022), Relic (2020), The Dark and the Wicked (2020), The Lodge (2019), Hereditary (2018), Pyewacket (2017), The Witch (2016), Goodnight Mommy (2014), The Babadook (2014), The Uninvited (2009), The Good Son (1993), Pet Sematary (1989) and The Stepfather (1987).

Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) is overly concerned with pleasing her mother (Sophia Heikkilä; Dual), and her mother seems overly concerned with Tinja’s gymnastics competition, her lifestyle video blog, and appearances. Montages from her mother’s blog are suggestive of a very image-concerned way of life. And more than just being a bit superficial, her mother is also having an affair and manipulating her children, placing some of her own moral burden on Tinja.

After putting an injured bird out of its misery, Tinja recovers an orphaned egg in its nest and brings it home to care for it. Tinja’s egg unexpectedly is growing. As her relationship with her mother becomes more strained, the egg grows larger and becomes her source of comfort.

When the egg hatches it’s somewhat gruesome as a glazed demonic claw frees a gangly bird-like humanoid from its massive shell. Like an evil mutant Muppet, the creature looks great! The monstrosity is asymmetrically disfigured, oddly a bit cute, and has glimmers of human-like mutations (e.g., molar teeth embedded in stacks in the rear beak). It clearly needs, even desires, to be mothered and loved.

There’s something fantastical about the egg’s existence, and how we the audience are to submit that the parents manage not to notice an eventually 3-foot egg on Tinja’s bed. Even with clueless parents, one would expect the plumage or the obvious smell or animal feeding evidence to eventually spark a conversation—but no such threat of discovery seems to exist.  All the while, the creature is transforming ever more human—like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly (1986), but in reverse. The process is macabre, but oddly soulful, even if viewed through a twisted looking glass.

Tinja bathes the beast, and even feeds it in the very manner as a mother bird would feed a hatchling. The creature receives the kind of care Tinja likely wishes she received, and the creature acts violently in Tinja’s best interest. It’s a sick love, but it’s one we can instantly understand. Essentially, all of the relationships in this movie are strained. And the most kind relationships are those that shouldn’t be. The film paints kindness as something that never seems to hit its most deserving target.

Very cool visual effects, by the way. Gross, oozy depictions of drool, bodily functions and flaps of flesh are just frequent enough to remind you this is as much horror as dark contemporary fantasy. Most horror attacks you with violence and gore and cruelty, whereas this movie is an assault on your emotions and sense of kindness. The whole experience is weirdly satisfying, yet generally uncomfortable. I realize that may not make sense to you readers… but when you watch it, you’ll get it. It may not pack the emotional gut punch of many A24 releases (e.g., Midsommar, The Lodge, Hereditary, Men), but this is emotional brutality in the neatly folded visage of a Stepford Wives fantasy Youtube Channel.

Can I just say, for her first feature film director and story writer Hanna Bergholm has done an outstanding job! This is a gorgeously made film in all dimensions both behind and before the camera, and both by cast and crew. Strongly recommended, especially to those enjoy truly bizarre dark fantasy with elements of science fiction or horror.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 3, 2022 2:43 pm

    This is the second review I’ve read about this one and both have said the same thing. Thanks for pointing this one out, I wouldn’t have watched it and sounds like I would have missed a good one.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      October 3, 2022 5:29 pm

      I knew I had to see this from the trailer alone, but was a bit apprehensive of its quality. But this was… really solidly made and executed IMO.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: