Saturday, October 5, 2013

#1,146. The Brood (1979)

Directed By: David Cronenberg

Starring: Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle

Tag line: "They're Waiting... For You!"

Trivia: This was the first Cronenberg film to be scored by Howard Shore

David Cronenberg, the master of body horror, has directed a number of excellent films, including Rabid, Scanners, Videodrome and the remake of The Fly. Yet the first movie that pops into my head whenever his name is mentioned is 1979’s The Brood, a picture that deals with the topic of rage like no film has before.

Dr. Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed) is the chief psychiatrist at the Somafree Institute, where he’s perfected a radical new form of therapy known as “psychoplasmics”, which helps patients deal with their bottled-up anger. One of the first to undergo this new treatment is Nola (Samantha Eggar), the estranged wife of Frank Carveth (Art Hindle). After picking up their daughter Candice (Cindy Hinds), who spent the day visiting Nola at the Institute, Frank notices the young girl has several bruises on her back. Convinced Nola inflicted these injuries, Frank heads to Somafree and demands to see her, only to be turned away by Dr. Raglan. Things get even stranger when several mutated children, who bear a slight resemblance to Candice, go on a killing spree, murdering anyone who, over the years, might have pissed Nola off. Hoping to find out what’s going on, Frank continues to poke around at the institute, leading him to a gruesome discovery.

Addressing such real-life issues as marital strife and child abuse, The Brood is as much the story of a man fighting to protect his family as it is a horror film (at the time he made it, Cronenberg himself was going through a messy divorce, which included a custody battle). Hindle does a fine job as Frank, bringing a tenacity to the role that serves his character well. But make no mistake about it: The Brood is a horror movie, and features several disturbing scenes, most of which involve the mysterious children that turn up from time to time. A scene where one of these kids murders Juliana (Nuala Fitzgerald), Nola’s mother, is certainly violent, yet is nothing compared to a later sequence that takes place inside a classroom, made worse by the fact it occurs in full view of a group of school kids. These scenes, combined with the film’s shocking finale, ensure The Brood will be a movie you won’t soon forget.

An immensely unsettling film, The Brood is David Cronenberg at his finest.

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