Film: The Brood
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: David Cronenberg
Starring: Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar and Art Hindle
This film begins with a doctor, played by Oliver Reed, sitting across from another man. Reed talks to him as if he was the man’s father. This other man is played by Gary McKeehan and we see that he has some emotional trauma that was caused by how he was raised. The man removes his shirt to show all these markings that he states his real father caused him.
We then shift to a father with his daughter. The father is played by Art Hindle and his daughter by Cindy Hinds. She is in the bath and he has her turn around so he can wash her back. This is when he notices bites, scratches and other markings. He calls Reed and is irate with him. He states that he will not let her see her mother, who is in the care of Reed currently, until he is told what happened to his daughter. Reed doesn’t back down though and tells him that is not in his best interests. He even consults a lawyer who also agrees.
Hindle has to go to work and he drops his daughter off with her grandmother, she is played by Nuala Fitzgerald. She is happy to spend time with her, but it looks like she has a drinking problem. They look at old pictures together and see one of a little girl who looks just like Hinds. This turns out to be her mother when she was a little girl. She is in the hospital and the way the story is told, it is a little suspicious.
Hindle’s wife and Hinds’ mother is played by Samantha Eggar. She is going through the same therapy that McKeehan was. Reed switches between playing Eggar’s mother, father and even husband during these sessions to help her work through things. We do learn that Fitzgerald may have been abusing Eggar physically when she was a child. We learn that this is a reason that she is in therapy, because she was afraid she would become her mother and do the same to Hindle.
While Fitzgerald is with Hinds, there is crashing noises from the kitchen. Fitzgerald goes to check them out and is attacked from behind by something that is small. It uses a meat tenderizer to kill her. Hinds comes into see what happens and whatever it is, it is sitting on the stairs. It leaves bloody fingerprints on the banister.
Hindle gets to the worksite, which is a house being remodeled when he is told there has been an accident at his mother-in-law’s house. He immediately goes to the police station and that’s where he learned about what happened to her. The inspector, played by Michael Magee, is concerned about how Hinds handled the situation. A doctor interviewed her, this man played by Reiner Schwarz. He states that he wants her to talk about it so it doesn’t cause a breakdown later. She is reluctantly and pretends that nothing has happened.
Eggar’s father then arrives in town for the funeral. He is played by Henry Beckman. He meets with Hindle and gets all of the affairs in line. He also goes out to visit Reed and he is denied having her come to the funeral. He is irate and threatens Reed to let her come, or he will get the police involved.
A teacher at Hinds’ school, played by Susan Hogan, wants to talk to Hindle about what is happening. When Beckman calls later that night drunk, she offers to watch Hinds while he goes to help. While he is gone though, Eggar calls and freaks out to hear Hogan answer the phone.
We then see what killed Fitzgerald. A creature crawls out from under the bed and attacks Beckman with two snow globe like items. He is killed and then this creature attacks Hindle when he arrives. The thing ends up dying in the bathroom. It doesn’t have any sexual organs; it is different from humans inside and was never born.
What is this creature? Are there more of them? Is Reed involved with this? Does Eggar have something to do with it?
This viewing was my second of the film and I’m definitely glad that I am writing this review after. The first thing was that I read up about this film and it is interesting that David Cronenberg wrote and directed this after going through a nasty divorce and custody battle. How this film plays out in the end, which makes a lot of sense. This film really is an allegory to what he went through. The ending sequence is really Eggar believing that Hindle was taking her daughter away from her forever. There is also a part when Hindle doesn’t feel she is stable enough to see the daughter anymore and the film is bias toward the mother’s rights. I loved the little creatures that are in the film too. They are quite simple and when it is revealed what they really are, I thought it was great. This also talks a lot about the character of Eggar, who is modeled after Cronenberg’s ex-wife. The story is good and the concept is as well.
I will say though, I was slightly disappointed by the acting. The only bright spot for me was Reed. He is a great, veteran actor and I never seem to be disappointed when he is in a horror film. The only drawback to him is that he seems to play the same character over and over, but I can’t blame someone who is typecast and had a long career over it. I personally would have liked to learn more about the technique that Reed is using on his patients and why it manifests the growths that some of these people had. It just states that it does and that is about the extent. That would have helped me like the film even more. Seeing more of the creatures I think is another thing I would have also enjoyed as well.
Now with that said, I did really like this film. It is an interesting film that is an allegory for divorce and custody of children. The acting in this film was a disappointment outside of Reed, but it does make up for it with the story and the concept. The creatures look good and the reveal about what they really are was as well. This isn’t the best film from the great Cronenberg, but this one is still solid from the 1970s. I would definitely recommend giving this one a viewing.
My Rating: 7 out of 10