It doesn’t say it anywhere in the film’s publicity, but Hatched feels very much like a prequel to Dinosaur Hotel. Both were produced by Scott Jeffrey, who also co-directed this one with Rebecca Mathews (The Candy Witch) as well as writing it, (IMDB credits Craig McLearie as an additional writer).
Hatched not only concerns a scientist who has recreated dinosaurs, they’re the same T-Rex and Raptors we saw in Dinosaur Hotel. Whether the fact one was made for his company Jagged Edge and the other for his Proportion Productions or that they were picked up by different distributors has something to do with this I don’t know. And I suppose what really matters is, is Hatched a better film than Dinosaur Hotel?
Simon (Thomas Loone, Clownface) has somehow managed to bring dinosaurs back to life at his remote farm/lab. Somehow they get loose and eat him and his wife Christine (Amanda-Jade Tyler, Conjuring the Genie).Their son Mark (Marshall Hawkes, Hellkat) manages to escape.
Unwittingly driving into the aftermath of this are Simon’s somewhat estranged relatives, sisters Caitlyn (Megan Purvis, The Young Cannibals, Bats) and Jocelyn (Georgie Banks, The Mermaid’s Curse, It Came from Below) and their parents Rebecca (Nicola Wright, Witches of Amityville Academy) and Bernard (Richard Kovacs).
One of the first things I noticed about Hatched is that while it uses the same CGI templates for it’s saurians as Dinosaur Hotel, they’re much better composited into most of the scenes. The ones where they directly interact with the cast are the exceptions, they still need lots of work. While better effects alone aren’t enough to save the film it’s a hell of a start.
The plot still feels a bit thrown together though. We’re teased with talk about something awful that happened to Mark. It isn’t till his relatives are stunned to see him that we learn the boy died. We eventually learn via flashbacks courtesy of Simon’s work diary that he managed to find a way to recreate the boy. From there, of course, he moved on to dinosaurs which did not go according to plans.
Just how he managed it is never really explained but we get some amusingly low tech footage of it. So low tech that it resembles something from a 1950s film. It’s amusing to watch him playing with Petri dishes and a comically oversized, Re-Animator type syringe. His voiceover narration of the diary sounds somewhere between pompous and insane. Which is just the right tone for it.
Eventually the Army, in the form of Sergeant Fletcher (David Castleford), scientific advisor Luna (Nicole Nabi, Medusa) and a few soldiers show up. They need to figure out what to do about the dinosaurs and get everyone out safely. Never mind the family, I want to know if they’ll be saving Private Ryan (Derek Nelson, A Werewolf in England).
As much as I was expecting another disaster, Hatched is actually quite enjoyable in a cheesy, SyFy, B-Movie way. It hits all the right notes, monsters and mad scientists performing dubious experiments explained with incomprehensible techno babble. And Castleford is near perfect as the batshit military figure drunk on his own authority. I could just imagine him telling the dinosaurs to “Choke on ‘em!”.
Hatched is, after Medusa, the second recent film from Jeffrey that I’ve enjoyed. Neither of them are classics, but they are fun, which is something I’m not used to saying about films he’s involved with. I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll get to say it more often.