Review: The Brood (Uncut, 1979)

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I don’t want to know what is going on in your midsection lady!

Written By: David Cronenberg
Directed By: David Cronenberg

The idea of dreams manifesting themselves has always fascinated me. Unfortunately there haven’t been too many good stories brought forth from such an idea goldmine. Enter David Cronenberg and The Brood. Like a lot of Cronenberg’s work, The Brood was initially panned and easily dismissed by critics. Clearly any movie that uses horror to actually try and tackle metaphysical issues can’t be worth anything right? Or, if a good looking actress bloodies herself up for a role then she is doing something wrong, Odin forbid that hot actresses and actors get as dirty and grimy as the rest. I could go on, but I shall restrain myself because I’m veering into “critic attack” mode as opposed to objective analysis of The Brood.

Keeping in line with most of the work of David Cronenberg, The Brood functions on one level as a straight horror picture, but on another level it rips apart the propensity for psychoanalysis in our culture and children being tossed around like pinball’s whenever their parents are suffering through anything. Easy topics, yet topics that you don’t often see given a foothold in the horror genre. To be honest, they aren’t given great depth in The Brood, but they are touched on enough so that The Brood offers something else to think about while the mystery of the story unfolds.

The first forty minutes of The Brood deals with the mystery of what is going on, and it is a well crafted mystery. I thought the doctor was obviously evil while we were heading towards a typical resolution of the wife reclaiming her sanity and reuniting her family. I clearly forgot that I was watching a David Cronenberg film, so shame on me for that. The mystery in The Brood is well developed and laid out in such a fashion that when the revelations come they matter and they feel like something you weren’t expecting.

The end birthing scene with Samantha Eggar is sufficiently creepy, full of Cronenberg’s flare for the gory and visceral. The Brood themselves are creepy as can be, but I believe there is something about little children or midgets killing that is always creepy, no matter the movie. For as great as I found The Brood, it did have a bit of a slow pace and as is typical of earlier Cronenberg the characters could have used some more development, mainly the ancillary ones. But, for a movie that was universally panned upon its release I found very few flaws indeed.

David Cronenberg is a favorite of mine, and The Brood contains most of what I love about his work. There are some rough moments, but overall it is a very good horror film that offers just a bit more beyond horror and succeeds in the realms it wants to succeed in. The Brood certainly isn’t for everyone and I won’t recommend it to everyone for that very reason. But, if you have seen and liked other earlier Cronenberg then The Brood is definitely something you need to check out.

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill

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4 responses to “Review: The Brood (Uncut, 1979)

  1. The scene in the school house is one of Cronenberg’s all-time creepiest. But the final 20 minutes, while forgoing suspense in favor of all-out shock value, are extremely well done. The only big flaw is his lack of endearing or empathetic characters in his early films. We really only watch them to see what hell he’ll put them through.

  2. I hear what you’re saying on the empathy note, but at the same time I think Cronenberg’s earlier films were very cold and Kubrick like in their treatment of the world as well as the characters. Cronenberg was more interested in the deeper meaning of an action as opposed to the human aspect he would tackle in later films.

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