This coming of age meets horror film unnervingly unpacks Tinja’s (Siiri Solalinna) toxic relationship with her mother (Sophia Heikkilä) as well as her own repressed demons. Tinja’s mother is a family lifestyle vlogger, determined to encapsulate her family’s day to day life as perfect. Throughout the film, however, it becomes apparent that Tinja’s family is far from perfect. Director Hanna Bergholm exposes the overbearingness of Tinja’s mother through costuming and set design. Tinja is thirteen years old and still wears frilly dresses and hair bows. Her bedroom is the epitome of a grandma who’s aesthetic never developed past the 1940s. With walls covered floor to ceiling in flowery wallpaper and sheer voile curtains, there is no doubt that Tinja has never rebelled against her mother.
To any outsider, this behavior would scream mommy issues, but to Tinja, she is simply upholding her mother’s desires and is happy to do so for her mother’s approval. Tinja lacks the freedom to be an unbothered teenage girl, so when she finds an egg in the woods, Tinja immediately bonds with it as this is the first thing that is truly hers.
While Tinja plays a devoted daughter, she also trains for a gymnastics competition and cares for her egg. As the pressure to win her competition grows, so does the egg. When the egg matures to roughly Tinja’s size, it hatches, unveiling a hideous bird with long black talons and eyes that take up most of its face. At first, Tinja is overwhelmed with fear, but the bond she feels to the creature fades her rational sense of terror as she begins to care for it as her own. Tinja names her human-bird hybrid, Alli. Their connection develops quickly and fiercely. There is nothing they won’t do for each other, or at least, nothing Alli won’t do for Tinja.
Tinja’s mother trained Tinja to maintain a quiet and happy demeanor, because the family is often being filmed or photographed for the mother’s socials. Alli is able to see through Tinja’s facade and takes matters into its own hands whenever things aren’t going Tinja’s way. Tinja needed Alli to help her express her desires, though Alli’s approach was brutal and rash. Although if the bird is there for Tinja or there to repair a home that already had darkness such manifested in Alli. As the two’s relationship develops, the bird slowly takes on Tinja’s physical characteristics and morphs into an almost identical version of her. The stages of Alli shedding its bird parts is what nightmares are made of. Alli alone would have made Hatching horrific, but the examination of modern life is just as haunting.
Hatching plays on the classic theme that emotions, when not confronted, will surface in morbid and violent ways. It isn’t a new idea, but Hatching’s catastrophic tale is nuanced through the commentary of social media’s impact on one's seemingly mundane and satisfying life. Tinja’s mother, though caring on the outside, has little authenticity in her life. This is shown by her lack of nurturing as soon as she isn’t on camera. Perhaps Alli was the authenticity Tinja’s family needed.
This piece is perfect timing for 2022, for social media has more reign than it ever has. By displaying their life for the world, influencers make well-paying careers. During the pandemic, social media helped us to feel connected to the world when it wasn’t possible to connect in person. However, how often is the content we absorb genuine? Hatching not only reminds us that it’s important to be true to our opinions and feelings, but also questions whether creators are presenting as their true selves. Certainly, Tinja’s mother was a worst case scenario, a woman who relentlessly attempts to present as the perfect Finnish mother is revealed to actually be neglectful and manipulative to her children, though hopefully most influencers are not horrific to this extent. Additionally, the ability to camouflage behind a screen is not only harmful to the consumers of content, but the creators themselves can easily descend into their fame and forget who they are outside of their online personality. This rings true for Tinja’s mother; even when things go awry, she continues to put on a veneer for the camera. Bergholm integrated metaphors throughout the film while maintaining the integrity of fear. Hatching is not for the faint of heart nor those who are unwilling to examine their relationships with their mothers.