During the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, Finnish director Hannah Bergholm celebrated the premiere of her debut feature film, Hatching, which will also be released in theaters and on VOD on April 29th courtesy of IFC Midnight. Hatching features Siiri Solalinna as a young girl struggling to live up to her mother’s (played by Sophia Heikkilä) extremely high standards. And as the teen discovers an abandoned egg, she decides to nurture it to fruition, but the creature inside isn’t exactly what she expects, and she embarks on a dark journey that leaves her frantically dealing with the nightmarish consequences of what she has wrought (and hatched, more specifically).
Recently, Daily Dead had the opportunity to speak with Hannah Bergholm as well as with Hatching co-stars Sophia Heikkilä and Siiri Solalinna about their experiences collaborating together, infusing the vividly impeccable world of these characters with touches of pure horror, and how they approached their characters as well.
Hannah, I would love to start with you—was this story something that was brought to you? Or was it something that you discovered? I'm curious how everything came together for Hatching.
Hanna Bergholm: Yes, screenwriter Ilja Rautsi contacted me and said that he had this one-sentence idea of a boy hatches an evil doppelgänger out of an egg, and that was all he knew so far. And I replied, “That sounds cool, but let's change the lead character into a girl. So we started to develop this story from this one sentence and this one sentence started to tell me that if somebody's hatching something, it means that they are trying to hide some aspect of their character. And also with hatching, there is some theme of motherhood to that and also about growing up and hatching out of this egg.
I think making this into a story from a female perspective was the right call because those themes have such great parallels to the ideas that you were talking about. For our actresses, I would love to hear a little bit about when you first read this script, what was it about these characters in this story that spoke to you, where you knew that you wanted to be a part of this?
Sophia Heikkilä: I was horrified when I read the script for the first time, and I thought someone had told Hannah what kind of mother I am [laughs]. I'm the mother of three daughters. So I was like, “Oh my God, is this how someone thinks of me as a mother?” Because even though she's a horrible, horrible woman, there are sides to her that I could relate to in a way, where I identify myself with controlling your daughter while dealing with this whole social media world. I don't think I'm that kind of mother and that kind of person, but I could relate to those themes. So I was so intrigued by the fact that this was a horror movie, but we could actually tell a story like this about eating disorders and just other serious themes, but through horror. I thought that was really interesting.
Hanna Bergholm (translating for Siiri Solalinna): So, she said she was interested in being in a story about the mother who pushes her daughter to relive the mother's own dream to become an athlete. She thought that was interesting.
The back-and-forth between these characters feels so real and so lived in. How did the three of you come together and work on these characters and really find ways to bring them to life on the screen when you were in production?
Sophia Heikkilä: One thing that was really, really helpful was that we had time to get to know each other the summer before. So we hung out a lot. We did some baking and played around with the script and the scenes, and just got to know each other, which helped a lot on set. And I think that saved us time, too, so that was one big thing for me.
Hanna Bergholm: I'm really a believer in long rehearsals and as Sophia said, it actually saves a lot of time because then all the backup work is already done. Then the characters are there already and then I just have to direct the scenes. After that, it was basically just directing some nuances in the scene, but the characters were already there. Everyone was so amazing, so it was actually kind of easy for me.
Sophia Heikkilä: Since I knew this was Siiri's first production, also having had this rehearsal period beforehand helped. It helped me with my character because I was able to say all those horrible things to her and act with her in this horrible way, thanks to the rehearsal time. So it really helped me a lot.
Siiri, I want to ask you about your performance because you have to take on two very physical performances here, but they're physical in very different ways. Was that challenging for you?
Hanna Bergholm (translating for Siiri Solalinna): She said that it was quite easy to perform these two characters because she felt that both of these characters are very different from who she herself is. So then she just goes and jumps into the character and pretends to be something else that she herself really is. And I can actually add to that, because Siiri is not a gymnast, but she does synchronized ice skating. She does that as a hobby, so she's very physical by nature, and she is very good naturally with all of that.
It's so rare to get a horror movie that primarily takes place during daylight, where everything is so vivid and so bright and beautiful. Can you talk about establishing the visual aesthetics of this film? They are stunning.
Hanna Bergholm: With our D.O.P. [director of photography] Jarkko [T. Laine], we talked about the lighting of this house because usually in horror films, the scary thing happens in the shadows. But since our film world is this world that the mother has controlled and created, she doesn't want to have any secrets in the family, so there are no dark shadows where anybody can hide. So you can see everything and everything is in these nice pastel colors and the light is soft and bright. But that actually is quite creepy because you get the feeling that there's nowhere to hide and everything looks so fake. And the darkest shadows are in the scenes where it's the monster, and in the end, the darkness, which is where you can hide and face your deepest emotions, is actually the safest place in this film.
[Photo Credit: Above photo courtesy of IFC Midnight / Sundance Institute.]
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