Hatching (‘Pahanhautoja’)

HORROR; 1hr 27min (Finnish with subtitles)

STARRING: Siiri Solalinna, Sophia Heikkilä

Pregnant pause: Solalinna

Tinja (Solalinna) is a 12-year-old Finnish gymnast whose slave-driving mother (Heikkilä) posts saccharine family videos on her Lovely Everyday Life blog that instantly made me want to commit a violent crime. The vids are revealed post-haste as the sham they are, however, for beneath their vanilla suburban surface, evil is brewing, as evil dearly loves to do. Not only is Mother colouring outside the marital lines with a widower who should know better (Reino Nordin), but when a rogue crow proceeds to trash her pretty living room, the domestic goddess coolly breaks its neck. Snap!


After that act of random violence fails to do the trick, chip-off-the-ice-block Tinja brains the poor creature with a rock in the dead of night and then, with classic horror-lore logic, carts home its egg to hatch beneath her duvet. This proves not to be her most thought-through move: when the ginormous egg hatches, the animal kingdom’s craziest mutation (an ingenious animatronic puppet played in part by Solalinna) slimes out to play.


The Lovely family’s latest addition is an avian-reptile hybrid with swimmy, bulbous eyes who is roughly the size of a small child. In fact, Alli, as Tinja christens it, feels such a visceral bond with her that it mutates by degrees into a grotesquerie of its perceived human soulmate. As if Tinja didn’t have enough going on with a competition coming up, Mother on her performative case, and a weak-kneed father (Jani Volanen) and bratty brother (Oiva Ollila) to deal with, she now has a psycho bird freak crashing her roost.


At 87 minutes there is not much space for introspection, and neither first-time director Hanna Bergholm nor her screenwriter, Ilja Rautsi, seem inclined to squeeze any in. Why would they, you could argue, when all anyone wants to see is what unspeakable act Alli will come up with next. And if that imperative further allows no space to give a pig’s trotter about what becomes of any of these semi-realised unfortunates, you could also argue that was always on the cards. Sweet dreams were never in their sights, and demon seeds are an impossible act to follow.