91 minutes, opens May 12, 3 stars
The story: This tale of psychological horror from Finland opens with a family that has it all - a beautiful home in a middle-class suburb and happy parents with two high-achieving children, a young boy and a teenage girl. Mother (Sophia Heikkila, whose character remains nameless) is the architect of their lives and proud of her creation. One day, a wounded bird enters their home and leaves an egg. Daughter Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) hides the egg until the event of the film's title happens - after which Tinja finds that she is not so alone after all. This film was selected to screen at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
Here are two reasons to watch this and one not to.
Tense mother-daughter dynamic
This movie is driven by two female characters: the mother and teen girl Tinja. The girl chafes under the weight of her parent's ambitions, while Mother just pushes harder. In the tradition of coming-of-age horror films like Carrie (1976), the pressure releases itself in gory ways. Director Hanna Bergholm is sensitive to the ways parents fulfil their thwarted dreams through their children and Tinja's anxiety radiates from the screen.
This is not a movie with a half-hidden monster that fully shows itself only in the final frames. Animatronics master Gustav Hoegen (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, 2018; Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, 2019) was called in so the creature who becomes Tinja's twisted sister is seen in full - and she is a disgustingly realistic masterpiece.
Great visuals, weak writing
Too much that happens here is stated literally, perhaps because the subtleties of the Finnish lifestyle and language have been lost in translation. Or maybe audiences have been led to have high expectations of horror from northern Europe (Sweden's Let The Right One In, 2008; or the Iceland-set Lamb, 2021).
To make an unnecessary point about the artificiality of images presented on social media, the story hammers home the fact that the mother runs a vlog titled Lovely Everyday Life, for example. The lack of depth makes this a collection of scares rather than something that gets under the skin.
Haunted Universities (NC16)
130 minutes, opens May 12, not reviewed
This work of comedy-horror from Thailand comprises three short stories set on campuses plagued by restless spirits. The cast includes actor-musician James Teeradon Supapunpinyo, Three Man Down lead singer Kit Krit Jeerapatananuwong and Music Praewa Suthamphong, former member of Thai idol girl group BNK48.