The Brood Reviews
An early Cronenberg horror flick. Basically that means that not only will the gore be well handled, but presented in a fucked up way. Low and behold, following mostly a lot of boring plot and characters, the last 15 minutes of this film are insane with disgusting actions involving a terrible birthing process of some crazy children.
While it's a little slow on the uptake...if you hold out, it redeems itself in the end.
Dr. Raglan (Oliver Reed) who is experimenting with metaphysical rage runs the Summerfree Institute. There he encourages his patience to indulge in allowing their inner anger to materialise in warts and blisters on their body. One of his patience is the demented Nola (Samantha Eggar) who has taken Raglan's therapy to the next stage. Her rage is apparently so potent that it results in The Brood, a savage group of dwarfs that emerge from the cysts on Nola's body. Unfortunately, Nola has another child, Candy and when her ex-husband, Frank (Art Hindle) finds that his wife is too unstable to look after their child he suppresses parental access. Nola goes even more insane and the brood ventures out to kill all those she believes have or may cause her harm. Although the carnage isn't excessively violent, the scene where Nola produces one of the dwarfs from a bloody sack and licks it clean leaves a nasty aftertaste.
Cronenberg has long been associated with fear of biological change, but is surprising that not many have picked up on his fascination, or dread of organisations. There's the Starliner Towers (Shivers), Keloid Clinic (Rabid), Summerfree Institute (The Brood), ConSec (Scanners), Spectacular Optical (Videodrome), Bartok Industries (The Fly), The Mantle Clinic (Dead Ringers), PildrImage Manufacturers (eXsistenZ).
...Lots of boring stuff in between...
I did enjoy Oliver Reed's psycho sessions with his patients; his technique was hilarious.
I was repulsed by wife's deformed womb; it was icky and realistic. I guess Cronenberg like those sorts of slimey things in his movies.
It was a great disturbing little movie. If they had upped the number of muto-kid attacks and improved the musical score, it could've been a huge classic.
"The Brood" is a completely exploitative film which tries ever-so-hardly to disguise itself, conveniently, as a REAL horror film. The film is directed by David Cronenberg, who directed "Videodrome" and "The Fly". You'll wish it were better; you'll wish it were worse. But all-in-all, there's a chance that you'll finish "The Brood" feeling as if Cronenberg simply winged it.
Yes, there are some typically interesting Cronenberg-esque suspense moments, but the uneven pacing and lack of any real ACTION throughout the film doesn't so much as make up for that. The film wants to be disgusting without being the equivalent of a sleazy Grindhouse flick, and therefore it does its job. I will admit that there are things to like here, but the bad overdoes the good in so many ways. It's disappointing, really; and that's coming from someone who respects Cronenberg as well as just about anything the legendary master of suspense has done. I mean, I love "Videodrome" and "The Fly" as much as the next guy. However, unlike the next guy, I do not like "The Brood".
Murderous Children are getting to be some pretty darn tiresome horror villains, but throw in some bodily mutations, and apparently your movie is loads of fun. The story concerns a man named Frank, whose former wife is in the loony bin, while his daughter is experiencing all sorts of problems. He's having a troublingly strange psychiatrist help his wife recover, and in the process, our main man tries to gain access to these procedures so that he can help his wife himself. However, the murderous, mutated children (whom I mentioned earlier) get in the way of his investigations, and soon he's trying to find out who their mother is. She can't be too nice, or too caring, I'd presume.
What Cronenberg wants to do here is this: he wants to build a film that spans about an hour and twenty minutes; in which not much happens. And then, he has another film which is about ten minutes long; in which a lot more happens. The last ten minutes of "The Brood" are exciting, well-directed, and as gruesome as they want to be. The finale scene isn't disturbing, per se, but it sure was effective. I can admire what Cronenberg has done here, stylistically, but "The Brood" just isn't that special. It doesn't have absorbing characters, all of whom are played by less-than-interesting or compelling actors, nor does it have good story-telling devices. It will work well for some, and it will not for others. I was ready to like this movie, I really was. But I never could have expected a man such as Cronenberg to produce- no, DIRECT- such a tedious bore. This is a decent film all-in-all, but it has much more craft and potential than it cares to use.
The film is good stylistically. There's some good camera-work involved, but what really sets the "mood" for "The Brood" is Howard Shore's fairly-solid musical score; which is often creepy and therefore, often effective. Yes, Shore has done more memorable scores, which are often attached to more memorable movies, but that's far from a "complaint". The make-up effects in this film feel like the kind that Cronenberg is used to using; revolting, whimsical, and nigh surreal. I liked how this film presented itself visually, and I have no problem with this film's violence. It's not disturbing to me, and it won't be disturbing to most people (not now, at least). However, I think it was meant to be misunderstood. Or perhaps it is not misunderstood at all. People have the right to dislike, or even detest this film. I don't hate, mind, or "detest" this horror-thriller, but it doesn't have its heart in the right place. It's a win-win situation; you go for gore and thrills, you'll get some. But "some" is not the same as "a lot", and "The Brood" needs more of the goods if it's going to keep me entertained. It needs characters; it needs story-telling; and most of all, it needs a POINT. But it's good to see that Cronenberg got his act together some years later when he made "Videdrome", "The Fly", and "The Dead Zone". He is a good filmmaker; but here, he has not made a good film. This film is not deserving of his talent in horror, thrills, and suspense. But it is worthy of his fascinating for all things visually grotesque. That I'll grant it.