Warning: This story contains spoilers about IFC Midnight’s “Hatching.” There will be another warning before key plot points are divulged.
In director Hanna Bergholm’s “Hatching,” a young gymnast, seeking comfort from her domineering and perfectionist mother, nurtures an egg that hatches into a disquieting human-bird hybrid.
The Finnish body horror, now playing in select theaters and available on VOD May 17, stars newcomer Siiri Solalinna as Tinja, a meek 12-year-old girl who struggles to live up to the high standards set for her by her mother, a mommy vlogger with a hint of coldness lurking beneath her hyperfeminine veneer.
“I think what Tinja feels from her mother is that her love is not quite genuine,” said Bergholm. “She’s trying to act in a loving way, but there’s always something a little bit more that Tinja should do in order to gain the love. And it seems that because the mother is acting charming, it must be Tinja’s fault and there must be something wrong with her. That kind of breaks her in a sense.”
An official Sundance Film Festival selection, “Hatching” was born out of a nightmare that screenwriter Ilja Rautsi had about an evil twin causing mayhem and leaving him to take the blame. He and Bergholm expanded the story to include themes of motherhood, perfectionism, puberty and suppression.
The filmmakers auditioned 1,200 girls across Finland before landing on Solalinna for the lead role. “She had never acted anywhere before, not even in school plays,” said Bergholm. “From the very beginning I really felt that she was very comfortable in front of the camera. Not trying to pretend, very genuine and very good at throwing herself into any kind of emotion.”
The Times caught up with Bergholm to answer some of the lingering questions you might have after watching “Hatching.”
Warning: Spoilers about key plot points of “Hatching” follow.
What made you want to tell this story?
It all started with the screenwriter, Ilja Rautsi. We met at a directors and screenwriters speed-meeting event where you pitch ideas, and he said that he had in his mind this one sentence idea: a boy hatches a doppelgänger out of an egg. I just felt that was a very fresh idea, but I really wanted to change the lead character into a girl because I really missed seeing more stories about girls and women in film. So then we basically started to develop the whole story from this one sentence. And I started to think, “OK, if this girl is hatching something, for me it means she’s trying to hide some of her emotions, some sides of her character.” And [with the idea of] hatching, there’s a theme of motherhood [as well]. So this idea of a mother-daughter relationship came [up] and [with it], a theme of growing up.
Why do you associate hatching with hiding something?
In the Finnish language, hatching is “hauto.” It kind of means, like, brooding. So it’s kind of like hiding something or brooding something.
Did you draw on any regional Finnish lore for the story?
No, actually, there wasn’t any Finnish fairytale or anything that we adapted, it was just the original idea. The only thing that is from old Finnish culture is the lullaby that is sang [called “Aa Aa Allin Lasta”]. That is a real old, traditional lullaby which is quite creepy.