The Brood (1979) Review
Written by: jamhorner
I knew right away that this movie wasn’t going to be easy to find, in fact, it took me several weeks to track it down. After viewing this film and comparing it to Cronenberg’s other horror works I have noticed an interesting phenomenon, that his horror films have a deeper meaning to them that is more subtle than any other horror movie. I have also come to the conclusion that Cronenberg can’t have people die in a normal way. This film cleverly depicts sexual obsessions, marriage by Cronenberg’s own divorce, and parent-child relationships. The story is about a father who is devoted to carrying for his daughter while his wife is undergoing treatment for anger issues; however, the psychological treatment for this issue involves the allowing of her body, as well as other receiving treatment, to undergo physical changes. This results in the manifestations of small child-like “things” to run ramped in the town. Aside from the excellent storyline, this film also includes some disturbing images and pretty good scares, the acting in this films was very well done and it’s dramatic side adds to the reality of this film.
To kick it off, the story of this film, like “Shivers” and “Rabid,” there is a great plot structure to this film than just petite evil demons running and killing, there are so many great references to David’s own divorce that he pokes fun of, demonstrated through numerous scenes where the father character fights for child custody. There are some numerous and subtle undertones of sexual abuse as well as sexual fantasies that seem present in wife that is undergoing treatment, and in some way there is also a hint of sexuality near the end when she gives birth, however, these accusations come from very restrained insight. There is also a very, very touching moments in father-child relationship matters that the whole movie centralizes and its effects of negative attention. There are some very great scenes in which the father displays his love and devoted protection of his daughter Candice. Cronenberg also depicts the outcome of negative father and mother attention through some of the patients that are being treated, and some of the scenes hit close to home, and seem almost heartbreaking, partly due to the actor’s strong performance and dedication to the part.
I also mention drama as being one of the primary genres encoded in this film. Sure, we can say that it is horror, but Cronenberg does an great job of turning a horror film into something more than that, something that has depth and fell to it. It is more that just horror but a family drama. I could say that David Cronenberg is Canada’s Takashi Miike, since they both have stories and movies that deal with every day life and drama.
This brings me to my next point about the strong performances in this film. There are so many great performances that enhance the emotional feel of this film and pushes it that much closer to reality and existence. Key performances like Art Hindle, whose acting makes you feel for his fatherly character and his devotion. Robert Silverman, whose performance as Jan renders you sad and emphasizes for him after his tragic past and what is happening to him after his treatment. Samantha Eggar, who plays the wife, does a fantastic job of playing a patient, but in some way she conflicts with our interests. Should we fell sorry for her after what her mother did to her, or should we hate her for what she is doing to the town and its people? Either way, her seldom acting is very well done and her performance near the end, when she looses it, is frightening and disturbing. However, there are some okay performances by Henry Beckman and Nuala Fitzgerald.
Now for the horror aspects of this film, the one thing that every Cronenberg film has. Like other Cronenberg films such as “Shivers,” and “Scanners,” the gore and weirdness is in small bursts, no pun intended. However, when the scenes comes to the point of one of these aspects, it truly is disturbing to watch, particularly the end scene where Eggar…well, I won’t say. The murders are very brutal, but they seem too “light” for my taste. When the strange child-things pop out of nowhere, it did scare me a bit and I’m glad that they vaguely show what they look like, cleverly shadowing their facial features under a hood. There is a great deal of implied horror as demonstrated when they do an autopsy of one of the child-manifestations. There is also a well balance of bodily horror, as seen through welts and lymphatic cancer, and in that sense alone, demonstrates the theme of the body turning against you.
Overall, this is your very typical, well-crafted and brilliantly designed horror masterpiece by David Cronenberg. Aside from small amounts of horror and mayhem, there is a very great genre of drama and family emotion to accompany it. The horror is in small amounts and not overdone to the point were it poisons the story and taints the performances. There were some excellent performances both on the demanding role and the supporting role, even though some of the supporting actors did not have stronger performances. It’s just one of those classic Cronenberg experiences that you should never pass up, as well as a timeless cornerstone in American horror. I would recommend this film to any horror guru that enjoys Cronenberg and horror stories with a little more depth to it. However, if you have a weak stomach, you may want to stay away from this film even though the disturbing images or very seldom, they are still vital to the storyline. I will leave with this, David Cronenberg has yet to disappoint me.