Baby birds, monsters and the perfect family veneer are the gist of this week’s film.


Directed by: Hanna Bergholm
Finland, 2022
Drama, horror, fantasy
Runtime: 91 minutes


A young gymnast, who tries desperately to please her demanding mother, discovers a strange egg. She hides it and keeps it warm, but when it hatches, what emerges shocks them all.

*Minor spoilers*

Tinja is a twelve-year-old gymnast who does her best under the firm hand of her perfectionist mother, a former figure skater. Mother is now a lifestyle influencer who runs a blog about the ‘typical’ Finnish family – and if that hasn’t made bile rise in your throat already – then you wait.

After gathering the fam – Tinja, her father and younger brother – for a quick video opportunity, a crow flies in the window and destroys the living room. Tinja, a kind soul, gently captures it, planning to release it back into the wild – but Mother has other ideas, wringing its neck brutally. And all is well again forever and ever.


Obviously the incident is deeply traumatic and Tinja is later awoken by a troubled cawing, which turns out to be the injured crow, which has made its way into the woods surrounding their home. Tinja takes pity on the bird, putting it out of its misery. Here she also finds an egg, which she brings home to incubate out of guilt for its mother’s fate.

Meanwhile, gym practice is brutal but coach assures T she can compete in an upcoming competition if she keeps practising. When their new neighbour Reetta joins the team however, its clear she’s much more talented than T. At home, Mother is busted in a passionate embrace with another man, which she explains away to T as something she needs for her own self-care. Which seems legit honestly?

Seems the perfect Finnish family ain’t so golden after all.

We’re all here for the egg action though so: life keeps coming at T. She continues to care for the egg and it eventually hatches something pretty disturbing. The creature that emerges comes to be known as Alli and the pair bond after Alli is injured escaping through the window. As T’s new pet evolves from skeletal baby bird into something far more confusing, the boundaries of their friendship are pushed above and beyond – especially as Alli likes to hurt people.

Who and what is Alli – and why is she the least chaotic thing in Tinja’s life? And don’t even get me started on Tinja’s stirring little brother Matias, who might just be the very worst.

This is a dark fairy-tale that doesn’t always hit the spot. I love the monster work (though it’s not necessarily ground-breaking) and I like that it has a lot to say about the pain of growing up. And somewhere in here is a definite allegory for fracturing mental health. The question of whether Alli is real or a pure figment of T’s imagination seems to form the majority of the reviews I’ve since read – but it’s up to you to take what you will from it.

On reflection I think the more mundane elements of this story work best for me. T’s developing relationship with her mother’s lover – framed as a homewrecker but is actually the only one who tries to understand Tinja – actually makes you hope for a different outcome for the family.

In short, what works I think works well but it isn’t always as tight as it could be. The performances are great though.

My rating


What did Jill think? Would she nurture this one ’til the very end or leave it in the woods? Find out here.

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