nobody movie_A body horror story with a bird twist

Tweendom – a category spawned in garish pastels for lucrative marketing purposes – has intensified since the early days of Hannah Montana and Jojo Siwa. “Tween discussions are particularly focused on girls,” claims the child researcher Tyler Bickford in 2016, “for whom the line between childish innocence and adolescent or adult independence is fraught with moral panic about sexuality.” Today’s tween TikTokers dethrone the bubbly, polychromatic YouTube legions of yore, feigning teenage status years in advance, as digitally savvy as they are strategically savvy.

When packaged and sold in such a polished, antiseptic manner, the disturbing, messy, and utterly uncontrollable biological process of “becoming a woman” can be bypassed entirely. hatching – Hanna Bergholm’s stunningly original debut film and Sundance gem – dares the opposite: embrace the experience of female youth for the monster that it is, and then literally give that monster wings. In what may be the first body horror film to feature a 12-year-old heroine, hatching presents a bird’s-eye view of the horrors of in-between puberty.

The film begins in an overly playful suburban home reminiscent of a LoveShackFancy Spread in which Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) poses for a YouTube video with her well-groomed mother (Sophia Heikkilä), docile father (Jani Volanen) and clingy little brother Matias (Oiva Ollila). When her gossamer charade is interrupted by a noisy crow – knocking over and smashing the comically fragile decor – Tinja calmly captures the bird and wraps it in a mauve towel, only for her mother to snap its neck. “Throw that in the organic waste,” Tinja is told, blue eyes wide with shock.

hatching, to you. Hanna Bergholm, 2022

While searching for the dying crow in the nearby forest, Tinja rescues a single egg from its nest and stuffs it into a giant teddy bear that shares her bed. Blond, lanky, and reptile-thin in her leotard, Tinja is not a typical Finn.”last girl‘ – and Solalinna’s range of expression exceeds the expectations of the genre. While she is eager to please and restrain herself from error, something darker – and wilder – resides in the girl’s lithe form. Ostracized by classmates for her self-serious demeanor, she finds solace in caring for her armor-bound companion. “Everything is fine. I will take care of you,” she assures the egg, whose heartbeat can be heard.

Nurtured by Tinja’s attentions and fearful tears, the egg expands daily, eventually giving birth to a sticky and gnarled baby bird. The hilariously homely but not unwelcome fledgling enjoys loofah baths and has an ET-like penchant for clasping his guardian’s hand. Tinja turns her white closet into a birdcage filled with clothes and secures the doors with thick pink ribbon. But as it matures, the bird Tinja calls “Alli” begins to resemble her human handler in eerie ways – claws are replaced by painted nails, flaxen-colored curls sprout from its down.

When the bulldog next door bites Tinja through the fence, Alli reveals her brutal instincts. “Mother! Tinja is a monster!” Matias yells, throwing the dog’s dismembered body onto the coffee table. Wild, jealous, and unpredictable, the bird is essentially Tinja’s it; her acts of violence are fueled by all the resentment she inspires in her attempt to perform passive femininity suppressed.

Siiri Solinna a hatching, to you. Hanna Bergholm, 2022

Meanwhile, “Mother” is too busy to notice, staging a video for her social media followers titled “Lovely Everyday Life,” complete with matching flower crowns and slow-motion families frolicking across the lawn. “I’m a woman with two kids and a husband,” she jokes with her selfie stick, Bergholm’s mocking “momfluencer” effect, while blaming desire for an airbrushed life. “My toes are not pointed,” Tinja is annoyed about recordings of an acrobatic exercise that her mother is about to post. “I’ll crop the video so you can’t see them,” is the curt reply.

Like Ari Aster midsummer, hatching is overwhelmingly pale – and all the more frightening for it. Tinja wears white eyelet dresses for most of the film; Her brother and father match in blue polos and khakis. But the nuclear facility is not what it seems. Her mother treats Tinja like a friend and talks about Tero (Reino Nordin), the handyman she secretly gives hand jobs to. “Remember, this is among us girls,” her mother winks from her lace canopy. During a later round of talks, she confides, “This is the first time in my life that I’ve felt like I really love someone.” Tinja’s face grimaces – and Alli’s vengeful feathers swirl down the hallway.

As the number of mutilated bodies multiplies, Tinja tries – and fails – to stop her bird-like doppelganger by masochistically inflicting Alli’s punishment on herself. There are many not-so-subtle clues to eating disorders: Tinja eats birdseed and throws it up to feed the bird, and later feasts on half a grapefruit, which her mother celebratoryly photographs. “You look thin, you’ve lost weight,” says her mother, pinching her upper arm appreciatively while Tinja stares at her tablecloth.

Siiri Solinna a hatching, to you. Hanna Bergholm, 2022

In a decidedly feminist way, Bergholm begs the question of what’s more terrifying — a cursed crow or a social media-obsessed mom, a demonic bird girl or an army of tweens in tight ponytails and robin-egg uniforms? “Don’t do it, Alli, don’t do it,” Tinja pleads at a gymnastics tournament, imagining her clone committing slaughter several cities away.

Indistinguishable in the final scene, Alli and Tinja go head-to-head in a showdown for the ages. “What… what was that?” her mother demands as Alli yells away. “I… I hatched it,” Tinja admits. “I just want it to go away.” Whether what she’s “hatched” is her sexual self or rebellious will, it’s clear that “it” is dangerous, a gesture to the physical — and emotional — burden of the Femininity. “I do not want you! Nobody wants you!” Tinja yells at her twin, who is crouching in front of her, his mouth wide open.

As moving as it is sometimes hatching explores both the timeless tropes of female youth and the shattering new standards of self-expression facing millions of tweens today. The creature hiding in the dark doesn’t need blood dripping from its beak. It could be a teenage girl striving for ghastly perfection.

hatching is currently in cinemas.

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