SUNDANCE 2022 REVIEW: ‘Hatching’ Cracks the Veneer

Credit: IFC Midnight

The structure of a fairy tale and the structure of a horror film are not as oppositional as it would seem. They both lean toward the cautionary, they both use fear, they are both highly thematic in message. So, while it may strike curious that Hatching presents itself as a horror-based fairy tale, one could posit that horror and fairy tales are often hand in hand; partners in storytelling. 

Hatching begins as so many fairy tales, a seemingly perfect child from a perfect family stumbles into a forest and discovers something dark and dangerous. 

It then continues as a horror film as the discovery becomes monstrous and menacing. 

From here the film settles into the aforementioned ‘hand-in-hand” territory.

Hatching is the story of pubescence and the perilous growth into young adult. It is the oppression, fear, and eventual empowerment felt during this journey.

The film creates the subject of pubescent change (emotional, intellectual, and physical) in the literal and physical form of a monster. Throughout the running time, the young protagonist meets, bonds, conflicts, and eventually becomes the monster she discovers. She is excited by it, drawn to it, afraid of it.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by IFC Midnight.

And this is exemplary of why both genres have not only thrived, but have been embedded into the human experience. Despite the fact they are both diminished as lesser storytelling, as simplistic shlock, both horror and fairy-tales thrive in out storytelling ecosystem. This is because they are primal and they are effective. They relate dangerous ideas, scary experiences, into a parlance that controls and pacifies them. It is a structured and safe place to process and evaluate the darkest of us.

And Hatching walks the line between both of these containers wonderfully. It is playful, it is dangerous. It is beautiful, it is threatening. It shows us a world that can be cracked simply because the veneer is so brittle. What we present versus what is so loosely contained below. With more than a subtle nod, Hatching explores the pressures we put on our adolescents, and our adult selves, to fit some ideal that has been amplified beyond reality. With blogs, social media, and online video we have projected an ideal that never was. We have created expectations beyond ourselves. 

 Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by IFC Midnight.

Hatching is about growing up in that environment. The terrifying world of pubescence with the added layer of societal pressure. Our protagonist cannot be what her mother wants, what her mother needs her to be. This all cracks like an egg (sorry) as her ‘monster’ develops. This monster is provoked until it becomes aggressive and dangerous. It is unbridled. In a less superficial, and more caring, world this creature might have been nurtured and allowed to grow. Instead it becomes violent and dark.

By the end of the film, the audience is presented with a prototypical fairy-tale/horror ending. What has been creeping in the dark, what has been avoided and foiled for the running time has its moment. 

This moment is the moment of inevitability.