Social media places excessive pressure on us to give off an essence of perfection to the world. No bad days, slip-ups, or follies allowed! For a Finnish family of four, that’s precisely what they are going for with their blog, ‘Lovely Everyday Life.’ From a distance, their house is spotless and vibrant, the marriage looks like a textbook union, and the two children look as happy as possible. However, behind the neat outfits and camera filters, the family struggles to hold up the facade — an allegory that many modern-day content creators could use.
Director Hanna Bergholm presents two instances of evil in her directorial debut, Hatching. There’s the monster we think of in a classic sense and the other that an unhealthy scoop of poisonous parental self-doubt can only cultivate. At the center of this flawless maelstrom is Tinja (Siiri Solalinna), who wants nothing more in the world than to make her materialistic mother (Sophia Heikkilä) proud of her. Tinja’s brother Matias (Oiva Ollila) is destructive of lack of attention, and her father (Jani Volanen) seems to keep quiet to make things work as smoothly as possible.
That leaves Tinja at the unrealistic behests of her mother, who pushes her to go to unrelenting lengths to gain her approval. Gymnastics class often leaves Tinja frazzled, bruised, and beaten down — all in the name of a daughter trying to figure out how to connect with a parent that she looks up to. Where Hatching serves to differentiate itself is the intersection of being a classic creature feature and a cautionary tale of how the neglect of proper bonding can be hurtful. The only time Tinja finds tangible love is finding an unusual egg. As Tinja cares for it, it grows abnormally in size and reveals an oddly looking animal (designed by Gustav Hoegen). Writer Ilja Rautsi depicts this relationship as tragically sacrificial — Alli (the name Tinja gives the creature and the lullaby her mother sings her) becomes a malleable container for all Tinja’s insecurities, hopes for companionship, and fears all at once.
It’s almost sad when you realize that her mother lacks the self-love to see what she has – going as far as having a separate boyfriend named Tero (Reino Nordin), where she “spends time away” in a completely different household. As she goes through extraordinary lengths to prop up her image, Tinja slowly fades into herself. Aside from the phenomenally eerie transformation Alli’s physical appearance goes through, the greatest tragedy in Hatching is what abandonment and high expectations do to people. Bergholm provides the horror goods, even if they feel as though they have been investigated in previous forms. However, it’s the combination of dread, poignant satire, and the performances which make Hatching something of its own.
Cinematographer Jarkko T. Laine seamlessly introduces a strange, but personal union into a world where nothing ever seems out of place. When you have an instance of spontaneous violence or something grotesque, it feels earned. Hatching is a deconstruction of the mother/daughter relationship and how one views themselves through the lack of reciprocated affection. Bergholm meets the messages she strives to convey with strokes of confidence and care. Perhaps we’ll all consider more time away from the camera other than being shaped by the gazes on the other side.
Photo Credit: IFC Films