Horror Movie Review: The Brood (1979)

Considered a cult classic for all the right reasons, 1979’s The Brood is a captivating psychological body horror written and directed by David Cronenberg. It stars Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, and Art Hindle.

The latter plays Frank Carveth, a man struggling with the collapse of his marriage. As well as the subsequent isolation of his wife, Nola at a controversial psychological institute and the custody battle they are having over their young daughter, Candice.

Frank is trying to do the best he can in a difficult situation. Made worse when he discovers bruises and scratches on Candice following a visit with Nola. Angry, he informs the head of the institute, Hal Raglan that he will deny Nola visiting rights. Something the man is against as he claims it will damage Nola’s mental wellbeing. Frank is unconvinced by Halm believing him to be a fraud. Especially after witnessing a demonstration of his forms of treatment.

Through a technique he calls “psycoplasmics”, Hal encourages those suffering with deeply supressed issues to manifest them into physiological changes on their bodies. It works for some, in others it can be life-threatening. As Frank discovers when he meets Jan, a former patient dying of a psychoplasmic-induced lymphoma. If all of this wasn’t trouble enough for Frank, people closet to Candice are murdered by some kind of deformed child. Always corresponding to when Nola has a therapy session that unearths some of her painful past.

Frank’s desire to protect his child sends him on a collision course with Hal and the institute. However, nothing could prepare him for the truth that he will uncover.

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What a unique and compelling story The Brood tells. An edge of your seat thriller that keeps you guessing right up to the end. An enchanting story, a brilliant cast, characters you can get behind and of course, plenty of David Cronenberg horror. Although not as much as you might be used too.

That doesn’t mean it won’t shock because it will, it really will. However, compared to his body horror classics like Shivers, Rabid and The Fly, it’s much tamer. What we have here is something akin to a more traditional horror movie with the dramatic theme of divorce and custody battles running through it like a thick vein. For the year it was released, The Brood really deals with heavy subjects. Not just divorce and custody battle but mental health, in women particularly.

It’s got cult classic status and it is well deserved. A movie that makes you think while still allowing you to enjoy Cronenberg’s shocking take on graphic horror.




The Brood
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