Some horror movies get the job done on a visceral level, and that’s more or less it.
We learned nothing new about the human condition from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” We experienced its signature shocks, and that was enough.
“Hatching” has bigger ambitions.
The Finnish thriller muddles superficial parenting between genre thrills. It’s smooth, and oh, so satisfying, and yet the script doesn’t have much to say in the third act.
A Finn wants to be the queen of vlogger moms, and she has the perfect brood to succeed. Young Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) brings grace and courage to her gym routines, and Matias (Oiva Ollila) can’t help but adore his mother, on and off camera.
Add an emasculated Pa (Jani Volanen) who ignores his wife’s infidelities, and you have a family made for YouTube glory.
We can spot the moral rot of this clan early on, and it gets worse after Tinja finds a bird’s egg which she tries to hatch. The shell grew and grew, and soon a creature the size of Tinja was walking through the house.
The girl and the bird bond, as the dysfunctional world around them grows more toxic, more eager for disruption.
Director Hanna Bergholm (“Puppet Master”) takes a surreal premise and piggybacks on a story that’s sure to enthrall audiences of all stripes. She captured self-absorbed parents in their natural habitat, and that’s the most gruesome element of the film.
It’s not even close.
Mom constantly pressures poor Tinja to work harder at gymnastics and never stop working out, even when her hands are bloody and raw. Dad would rather noodle on his guitar than connect with his kids. And Matias is just scary, period.
Who needs a mysterious creature with this batch on camera?
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Young Solalinna has the hardest task here, making her tortured persona worth our emotional investment. She is hard to embrace at times, her own moral compass far from complete. She is also on the cusp of womanhood, which the script acknowledges without direct comment.
“Hatching” is at its best when it holds its messages back.
The pandemic theater exhibition continues to feel upside down. I just found out that my local AMC is getting Hatching from IFC Midnight, a company that for years was reliably same-day on digital, but now only hits theaters for most titles ( see also: Watcher). pic.twitter.com/up7wKmwjn7
— Peter Marra (@thepetermarra) April 21, 2022
The story tightens when the mother’s lover (Reino Nordin) enters the frame. Who could fall in love with such an ugly soul, however primitive its wrapping? Nordin’s performance, one-dimensional at first, matures with modest screen time.
The finale delivers what we expected, more or less, but at this point the story’s satirical weapons have long been fired. What’s left? A devilishly original tale that winds conventionally.
We’ve seen far worse from the horror genre, but a murderous resolution could have catapulted “Hatching” into the modern classic camp.
Hit or miss: “Hatching” delivers what horror fans crave, from disturbing reveals to a snarky, satirical storyline. The third act always gives the impression that something substantial has disappeared.