Festivals, Reviews

Sundance 2022: ‘Hatching’—A Beautiful Take on the Body and Creature Horror Genre

After the successful festival run of Julia Ducournau’s Titane—even winning the highly regarded Palme d’Or in a Cannes run by the eccentric Spike Lee—body horror is gaining resurgence within mainstream audiences as it gives insight into our fixation on how far human bodies can endure. Hanna Bergholm’s Hatching, elicited mixed responses as expected in most genre films, especially the body horror genre.

Hatching starts with a picturesque Finnish family as the image-obsessed unnamed matriarch (Sophia Heikkilä) captures their perfect life for her popular blog “Lovely Everyday Life.” While in their dollhouse-looking living room, a bird accidentally gets in and starts to wreak havoc on their perfect setting. Tinja (Siiri Solalinna), the daughter, safely captures the bird and hands it over to her mother. She mercilessly snaps its neck and instructs Tinja to throw it out in the organic bin. After discarding it in the forest, she finds an egg and brings it home. Tinja nurtures the bird until it grows and hatches a bird-like creature.

Bergholm explores multiple themes in the film as Tinja balances her life and her duty to this creature she took in. There is the exploration of the mother-daughter storyline as Tinja desperately tries to please her mother practicing herself to the bone for a gymnastics competition. There is also the changing body of the adolescent Tinja which is explored through body horror as she goes through rigorous training. The creature she took in transforms into an evil counterpart of herself which explores the duality of man. And a coming-of-age narrative as Tinja realizes her worth and how the world works around her. Hatching feels as if the films Lady Bird, Alien, and Titane had a baby. As both of the titles mentioned, Hatching is also as heartwarming as it is grotesque. There is never a dull moment in the film as Tinja and their fake perfect life crumble.

Other than its themes and emotional drive, Hatching is one of the prettiest films I’ve seen at the festival aesthetic-wise. From the production design down to the costumes, the pastel palette works so well with the mangled creature horror that unravels. The film also boasts SFX Makeup supervisor Conor O’Sullivan who was nominated for an Oscar for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, as the film perfectly captures the freakish nature of the creature.

Hatching is sure to gain a cult following soon with its heartwarming story of a teenager coming to terms with life, resolving mother-daughter issues, and its freaky creature and body horror. It was a ride from start to finish.

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