This Halloween we have a review of another Cronenberg film, with The Brood.
The Brood is, frankly, the superior film to Cronenberg’s later Videodrome. On the one hand, the focus of the horror is less on whether the protagonist is going nuts or if this is happening him (as is the case with Videodrome) and more related to what is happening to the family of the protagonist and how his wife relates to this.
The Brood, frankly, is a film which can be spoiled. So, instead I’ll focus a little more on the technical and performance side of things. The film’s body horror is much more effective than it is with Videodrome, in part because it’s used so sparingly, and when it does come on camera, more time is spent on it. It’s not that the effects are poorly done – they’re done incredibly well – it’s that when they come up, you’re not quite expecting them, so they’re a much stronger hit.
The performances are generally solid. From what I’ve seen now of Cronenberg’s work, with the exception of Crimes of the Future he’s shown himself to be great at directing actors and selecting good casts. Of a particular note is Samantha Eggar as Nola Carveth who, without spoiling too much, brings a real “Lady Macbeth”-esque tone to her performance that really works. Oliver Reed as Dr. Hal Raglan also brings the perfect understated performance to the film.
Cindy Hinds performance as Candy is something of a mixed bag, mainly because there are a few scenes where she’s seeing things that are legitimately scary in the earlier portions of the film, and her reaction is basically “dull surprise”. This improves in the later portions of the film though, so I can’t say what was particularly different about those scenes and how they were shot.
As it is, if I was to recommend one classic Cronenberg film to viewers, particularly if they want something that plays up the body-horror, I’d probably go with this over Videodrome.
The Brood has gotten a release from the Criterion Collection and is available from Amazon.com