Forgotten Friday Flick – “The Brood”

King of his own wild and wacky cinematic castle, David Cronenberg and a dissection of all the eerie early gems he embodies continues this week with an oddity about family that’s finger licking good – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  Today it’s all about the importance of kin (creepy or not!) as we explore an outing that’s thick on dread – both in tone and story.  Seems a family is being torn apart by both an unsettling doctor and some small hidden menaces in a cult driven ditty guaranteed to give you a didn’t-see-that-coming gut punch.  They may be part of your ancestral clan, but watch out for…The Brood!

Frank Carveth is a husband and father going through a rough time.  His wife Nola is a permanent patient at a mental facility called the Somafree Institute, he’s been left taking care of their five-year-old Candice on their own and lately he’s been noticing some bruises and scratches on his daughter after her visits with her hospitalized mother.  He informs head institute psychotherapist Hal Raglan of his findings and his desire to stop future visitation.  Seems Raglan is putting Nola through an experimental technique called “psychoplasmics” where suppressed emotions are expunged through physiological changes and upon hearing from Frank the good doctor decides to step up his treatment a notch – bad idea.

While there are indeed heavy cult like elements that make up the story of The Brood (there are tales of everything from a custody battle to cult-freeing family experiences that the filmmaker used as personal inspiration!), the film also provides early ‘fascination with the flesh’ insight into the mind of David Cronenberg – a subject that he would go on to make a career out of.  It’s mixed here with a healthy dose of genre tropes and solid performances, but what stands out about The Brood is its disturbing ‘emotions creating physical changes’ story angle that fully creeps out only the way Cronenberg can do.  So in between interesting acting (the scenes of Raglan holding therapy are as captivating as the man himself!) and mini-monster menace (the terror tots here have a distinctive Village of the Damned vibe!), there are equal amounts of odd neck growths and grotesque new life reveals that make The Brood much more than standard horror schlock.

Plus Cronenberg matches his odd ideas with a prestigious cast (it would again become a wonderful style staple!) and the pairing keeps things fully off kilter. From thespian legends Oliver Reed and Samantha Eggar as an equally ominous doctor and patient to Canadian actor Art Hindle and young Cindy Hinds as the ailing father and daughter of the piece, the film matches some of the more fantastical and at times cheesy bits with a grounded captivating cast for a film that more than delivers on the promise of being terrifying.

The Brood was early work in the career of Cronenberg and as such got a ton of hate from critics not yet accustomed to his particular brand of out there at the time.  High profile critics from Leonard Maltin to Roger Ebert called it everything from a bore to disgusting.  (Agree with the latter – but with pride!)  And while the film does feel like a first film effort for sure, but there’s simply no denying that within the B-cheddar there’s a consistent unsettling tone and introduction of unusual ideas that are too dire and demented to dismiss – the lineage of The Brood is long lingering.


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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