Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

Unfortunately, in “Hatching,” the horrors of growing up—and more specifically of being raised by insensitive, repressed parents—are otherwise not that disturbing or even memorable. Bergholm (who has a story co-author credit) and screenwriter Ilja Rautsi deserve credit for effectively practicing the Roger Corman rule of teasing viewers with something good ‘n exploitable (in this case: bird-monster-related) every ten minutes or less. But while your mileage will obviously vary, “Hatching” never really congeals into something that’s as unsettling as it is gross.

The main appeal of Tinja (Siiri Solalinna), a shy pre-teen, often seems to be that she’s not her stifling mother Äiti (Sophia Heikkilä). Or maybe Tinja’s just unsure of how to live with her mother’s many expectations. Äiti constantly documents Tinja’s activities for her influencer-style blog, all about her “normal Finnish family.” Which in turn explains their family’s floral wallpaper, pastels-and-polos attire, and glass-and-porcelain home décor. That set-up also kind of explains why there’s nothing shocking about the violent bird-related climax of an early scene: Tinja’s mom snaps a blackbird’s neck after it flies into Äiti’s home and breaks some things as it struggles to escape. A good start for a horror movie, but not unexpected given how plainly monstrous Tinja’s mom tends to be.

Äiti has some humanizing qualities, and she’s also superficially oppressive to a very immediate fault. Äiti wants her daughter to practice, practice, practice until she earns a slot at an upcoming gymnastics competition. But Tinja can’t nail her dismounts and always seems to land on either her side or her knees. Tinja’s mom also seems to have crushed the spirit of her dutiful and somewhat nervous husband Isä (Jani Volanen), who takes orders and keeps up appearances, but otherwise doesn’t seem to matter. Oh, also, Tinja finds a baby bird in the forest and raises it in secret. It turns into a giant bird-monster and inspires a weirdly lackluster coming-of-age identity crisis.

By Dave Jenks

Dave Jenks is an American novelist and Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Between those careers, he’s worked as a deckhand, commercial fisherman, divemaster, taxi driver, construction manager, and over the road truck driver, among many other things. He now lives on a sea island, in the South Carolina Lowcountry, with his wife and youngest daughter. They also have three grown children, five grand children, three dogs and a whole flock of parakeets. Stinnett grew up in Melbourne, Florida and has also lived in the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and Cozumel, Mexico. His next dream is to one day visit and dive Cuba.