THE BROOD is an early directorial effort by Canadian master of the clinically creepy, David Cronenburg, and remains one of his most striking and original films, as well as an early excursion into what is known today as “body horror.”
Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed) is the creator of a new therapeutic technique called “psychoplasmics,” carried out in secret upon resident patients at his private facility.
One such resident is Nola (Samantha Eggar), dealing with extreme anger issues over her divorce from her husband Frank (Art Hindle) and the custody battle over their daughter, Candace (Cindy Hind).
As Nola is subjected to Raglan’s unconventional methods to express her anger, something very strange begins to happen.
Child-size assassins with blank eyes and frightening impish countenances seek out and kill people who are the targets of Nola’s simmering resentment, including each of her parents and one of Candace’s teachers, who Nola suspects is having an affair with Frank.
On first viewing, we’re so startled by our first glimpses of these tot-sized killers decked out in children’s snowsuits that we can barely be sure of what we’re seeing. These sudden, savage attacks provide some of the most frightening scenes in Cronenberg’s whole unsettling oeuvre.
It turns out that these child-sized monsters are somatic outgrowths of Lola’s rage, physically birthed from her body and liberated to carry out her unconscious wishes.
It will be up to Frank, with the help of Raglan who comes to regret his role in creating this horror, to stop the killings and save Candace before she too becomes a target of her mother’s rage.
With Eggar’s portrayal of a deeply disturbed woman willfully giving birth to murderous monsters that are unleashed on those closest to her, it’s hard to think of THE BROOD as a feminist fable. Unless you see it as a feminist revenge fantasy. The best horror films are complicated beasts, hard to pin down to once definitive meaning.
THE BROOD will leave you with plenty to ponder, and shiver about.
- Cronenberg would go on to direct such genre favorites as SCANNERS, THE DEAD ZONE and the remark of THE FLY.
- Howard Shore, who served for several years as bandleader for Saturday Night Live, provides the film’s score, one of his first soundtracks. He would go on to provide scores for many important films, including Peter Jackson’s LORD OF THE RINGS and HOBBIT films.
- Oliver Reed earned his horror film cred playing the young lycanthrope in Hammer Films’ CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF.
“How’d you like some ice cream, doc?”