The Brood (1979)
Starring: Samantha Eggar, Oliver Reed, Art Hindle, Henry Beckman
Directed by: David Cronenberg
A concerned husband (Hindle) investigates the unconventional psychiatric clinic where his wife is being treated as a ‘special’ patient. At the same time, people connected to the family are attacked by a gang of mutant dwarf children.
An under-rated and intelligent horror movie from David Cronenberg. The drivers in this movie are similar to other early Cronenberg “body-horror” films such as Shivers (1975) and Rabid (1977); namely the idea that the psychological problems of individuals, and of society as a whole, can be represented by physical entities like tumours, diseases and in this case, foetuses. If you think this is going to be a simple film about killer midgets running amok, think again. These are not mutant dwarfs but the literal spawn of a very unstable woman’s rage.
The themes are of sorrow, bitterness and physical abuse. It’s rare that a horror movie handles such complex themes with the panache that Cronenberg employs here – and that’s why I say this movie is intelligent. The way the breakdown of the grandparents’ marriage is chartered against the horrific chaos around Hingle and his wife is remarkable; it’s as if history is repeating itself, and Cronenberg bleakly shows us that the family’s disintegration means it will pathetically happen all over again- to the young daughter, her mind pushed to the extreme by the horror engulfing her.
Admittedly, for most of the movie, Cronenberg relies on cheap shocks to generate terror – there are plenty of killer midgets flying out of kitchen cupboards for instance – but latter on in the film, there is a real sense of dread and this is where the film comes alive. Moreover, Hindle, Eggar and Reed are all excellent – especially Reed, who seems to wallow in his role as Dr Raglan.
Overall, a very good horror film – but not a happy one. For maximum effect, watch alone.
hotdog rating: 7.5/10.