Monday, January 23, 2023

Flipping the Bird

Film: Hatching (Pahanhautoja)
Format: DVD from DeKalb Public Library on rockin’ flatscreen.

Hatching (or Pahanhautoja if you want the Finnish) is a film that I’ve heard of a few times. When I ran across it at my local library, it seemed like a touch of kismet, so I checked it out right away. I knew nothing about it beyond the name and the fact that it came recommended. I honestly didn’t even know that the film was in Finnish until it started, I heard something that sounded Scandinavian, and I looked it up.

One of the more interesting realities of Hatching is that we are going to be introduced to our main characters right away, and we’re going to almost universally dislike one of them. The people who will be our main focus are a Finnish family who make their living, at least in part, as social media influencers. This, we soon discover, is very much the project of the unnamed mother (Sophia Heikkila), who is desperate to project the idea of a perfect Finnish family. We open the film with the family—Mother, Father (Jani Volanen), son Matias (Oiva Ollila), and daughter Tinja (Siiri Solalinna)—posting a video that is interrupted by a crow hitting their window and subsequently destroying a part of their living room. Eventually, Tinja captures it, and unexpectedly, Mother snaps its neck.

This leads us to the night, when Tinja discovers that the crow is no longer in the garbage can. She heads into the forest and discovers the crow still barely alive, and she kills it…and then discovers an egg, which she takes home. And, as will not surprise you, the next bit of the movie concerns the hatching of that egg, which we see grow over time into something roughly the size of Tinja. What emerges is a sort of human-sized skeletal bird creature that Tinja feels obligated to care for.

We’re going to learn some things about the family and the creature (named Alli by Tinja, and eventually played by Siiri Solalinna). Much of Mother’s desperate need for attention and to be seen as perfect comes from her past as a competitive ice skater. And, unsurprisingly, a great deal of that is transferred to Tinja, who competes in gymnastics, but is not nearly as good as Mother tells the world she is. We also learn that Mother is having an affair with a handyman named Tero (Reino Nordin)—and that this affair is open and Father knows about it. Perhaps most importantly, we learn that Alli and Tinja share a sort of psychic link. What Alli experiences, Tinja can also experience, and that if Tinja finds herself jealous or angry, Alli will act.

We start to discover this when next-door neighbor Reetta (Ida Määttänen) proves that she is a much more accomplished gymnast than Tinja is. Shortly thereafter, Alli shows up in Tinja’s room with the headless corpse of Reetta’s dog. This is a theme that will continue—any time Tinja is in distress, Alli acts, and over time, Allie becomes less and less like the skeletal creature that was hatched from the egg and more and more like Tinja herself.

There’s a lot to like with Hatching, not the least of which is the family dynamic that we are presented withal practical effects are less than spectacular. Matias, we discover, is desperately jealous of the attention that is heaped upon Tinja. This is done efficiently and well—Matias is obsessively attentive to his mother, desperate to find times when Tinja has failed

in anything. We also learn that this is not unwarranted on Matias’s part. When Mother returns from a trip with a gift for Tinja, she is blunt and matter-of-fact about not having brought anything for Matias. In fact, the way that she speaks to him is as if he should not have expected anything from her.

I like the idea of this movie as well. There’s a lot that could be and is done with this concept, and it seems positively revolutionary right now that it manages to do this in about 90 minutes. When something as derivative as The Invitation needs an hour 45 and Smile thinks it requires almost two hours, to have a complete horror story happen this quickly feels strange, but entirely welcome.

If I have a complaint about this, that complaint is absolutely going to be the fact that the practical effects of Alli early on are unintentionally comedic. As the film goes on, they get better, but our initial Alli looks a great deal like a dinosaur head attached to the reassembled contents of a KFC bucket.

Why to watch Hatching: What a great idea for a movie.
Why not to watch: The early practical effects are…less than stellar.


  1. I've heard about this film and how fucked up it is but I wanna see this.

    1. It's worth seeing, and I definitely love how much it takes the piss out of influencers.