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I'm Like a Bird

IFC Midnight

Hatching (2022)

“Hatching” functions like the hybrid of a dark fairy tale and an adolescent horror. It’s utterly implausible, yet it isn’t explicitly sci-fi or supernatural. It falls into the body horror subgenre somewhat, but it’s more gross than it is scary.

Anyway! Preteen Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) lives the seemingly picture-perfect life meticulously staged by her perfectionist/controlling/narcissist vlogger mother (Sophia Heikkilä). A bird comes crashing in from outside the window and briefly wreaks havoc, shattering glass all over the living room. Tinja eventually captures the bird and hands it over to mother, who promptly snaps it. The bird isn’t quite dead yet, and vanishes from the “organic waste” bin after a while. Tinja mercy-kills it by beating it with a rock and then retrieves an egg from its nest and incubates it under her teddy bear. However! The egg grows bigger with each passing day. When it finally hatches, a monster emerges! It can best be described as a giant bird with certain human characteristics, and it will gradually evolve to resemble Tinja. That’s not all! It bites off the head of the aggressive dog next door and places it on Tinja’s bed. She throws up, then it feeds on her vomit!

In addition to nursing and hiding this bird, Tinja faces other issues! She struggles to qualify for a gymnastics competition, and newly arrived next-door neighbor and former dog owner, Reetta (Ida Määttänen), is poised to take her spot – which mother won’t allow to happen. Mother openly dates another man, Tero (Reino Nordin), which apparently does not faze father (Jani Volanen). Tinja also has a nosy little brother, Matias (Oiva Ollila), who threatens to tell on her. And she has to make sure the bird doesn’t kill them all!

It’s not clear if screenwriter Ilja Rautsi intends for Tinja’s family to be the actual horror show. That would have certainly made “Hatching” a lot more interesting. But it feels like a missed opportunity in the hands of director Hanna Bergholm. The dynamic between Tinja and the bird eventually becomes good twin versus bad twin, which is a far less interesting dynamic since it misses the opportunity for social commentary on internet celebrity industrial complex, sociopathic parenting and the hidden emotional and mental costs of keeping up appearances of the aspirational family unit. But no. It’s about the bird potentially eliminating those posing threats to Tinja, and in turn she must defend those who otherwise make her life a living hell. The moral of the story? Don’t kill birds!


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