★★★★ out of ★★★★★
This Icelandic horror comedy is guaranteed to be one of the most off-the wall films you’ll see this year. I found it an absolute blast!
Directed by Elvar Gunnarsson
Icelandic horror-comedy It Hatched (2021) is a weird, weird film, and I mean that in the best sense. It’s a loopy trip that finds married couple Mira (Vivian Ólafsdíttir) and Pétur (Gunnar Kristinsson) moving from the United States to Pétur’s native Iceland, as Pétur wants to leave his stressful engineering job and open a bed and breakfast for bird watchers.
The house that they bought sight unseen is far from the nearest residential area, and worse, it contains what seems to be a portal to Hell that Pétur unwisely opens by taking off the stone rune-inscribed tablet that covers it. Bizarre and eerie incidents take place, not the least of which is Mira suddenly becoming pregnant — although Pétur has a low sperm count — and giving birth to a large egg, which hatches and gives the couple a baby boy.
Everything in the world of It Hatched seems off-kilter. Pétur’s growing paranoia and Mira’s acceptance of the decidedly unusual birth of their baby as normal are two reasons why — and then there’s that hole, the way others react to it, and what comes out of it and back in. The two leads are absolutely terrific in their performances, which are stylized, falling in some near-surreal territory somewhere between quizzical and melodramatic. Kristinsson initially plays Pétur as a bemused everyman, then ramps things up as his character becomes confused and suspicious. Ólafsdíttir inhabits Mira with the joyful glee of both a child therapist and mother to a newborn when with her young patients or her son, and she gets many opportunities to stretch her range when her character is dealing with her frustrations toward her husband and with the wild events in their new home.
Director Elvar Gunnarsson also co-wrote the screenplay — with Ingimar Sveinsson and Magnús Ómarsson — and shot and scored It Hatched. It’s a heck of a directorial debut, and he nailed his other work on the film, too. Fans of high strangeness, offbeat humor, and wonderfully crafted oddball cinema would be wise to seek this one out.
Review by Joseph Perry
It Hatched screens as part of the Austin Film Festival, which runs from October 21–28, 2021.
For more information on Austin Film Festival, visit https://austinfilmfestival.com/.