A divorced man grapples for custody of his daughter with his ex-wife who's undergoing intensive psychological therapy.
Directed by David Cronenberg
Starring Art Hindle, Samantha Egger, and Oliver Reed
Review by Jon Kissel
The eye-grabbing parts of The Brood include the creatures, but the most interesting ideas in Cronenberg's film don't necessarily require the horror aspects. Raglan talks a lot about the festering psychic sores of childhood trauma and the ways they can unpredictably emerge. He believes in ripping off the band-aid, confronting his patients face-to-face with the ugliness in their pasts. The film opens with a patient standing up to his bullying, hyper-masculine father, and continues with Raglan subbing in for Nola's Joan-Crawford-like mother and her uninterested father. It's unclear if these methods are helping, but they're thrilling to watch.
In one of his earlier films, Cronenberg is completely in his element. He films the aforementioned sessions honestly and intensely, keeping up the tension in every scene. The creatures' size and costumes means they can blend into a crowd or be hiding in any small space. When characters walk through an empty house, the end result might be inevitable, but it's still surprising. Cinematographer and frequent collaborator Mark Irwin makes great use of the wintery Canadian landscapes, specifically a haunting long-distance shot of three characters walking down a highway. Aside from Reed, however, the acting is not very noteworthy. Hindle's a boring protagonist and Egger is way over-the-top, culminating in a very weird climax. The other patients are twitchy, which is realistic for the world, but still annoying.
There's plenty of stuff in The Brood to like, but it's ultimately a great-looking horror movie with one memorable performance. There's something here about the effects of childhood trauma and repression, but it gets muffled under beak-nosed creatures in brightly-colored parkas. Cronenberg’s going to crack this specific formula in the future, perhaps with more personal distance from the material. C+