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The Brood

Year: 1979
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 92 min
Director: David Cronenberg
Producer: Claude Héroux
Executive Producer: Pierre David, Victor Solnicki
Writer: David Cronenberg
Cinematographer: Mark Irwin
Editor: Allan Collins
Sound: Bryan Day
Music: Howard Shore
Cast: Nicholas Campbell, Henry Beckman, Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle, Nuala FitzGerald, Cindy Hinds, Susan Hogan
Production Company: Elgin International Productions, Les Productions Mutuelles Ltée

Nola (Samantha Eggar), a victim of childhood abuse by her mother, falls under the psychiatric care of the mysterious and visionary Dr. Raglan (Oliver Reed), who encourages his patients to give physical expression to their pain and anger. Frank (Art Hindle), Nola’s ex-husband, is concerned for the well-being of his daughter Candice (Cindy Hinds), who one day returns from a visit with her mother covered in cuts and bruises. When Nola’s parents are suddenly murdered by a bizarre creature, Frank begins to suspect the true nature of Dr. Raglan’s work. He then discovers that Nola’s suppressed rage is fuelling a terror which could endanger Candice’s life.

The Brood is the most intense, and the most personal, of David Cronenberg’s early films – and, in some respects, it is also the most simple. Once described by Cronenberg as his version of Robert Benton’s Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), The Brood is a much darker and more desperate insight into the anger and intensity of a marital breakdown – seen, as it is, through the eyes of a child. The film’s descent into a nightmarish world of fear and revenge centres specifically on the hatred the characters feel, as each, in their own way, tries to protect the child they love.

Cronenberg’s first fully mature work, The Brood is a fitting prelude to Scanners (1981) and Videodrome (1983), and was deservedly recognized with five Genie Award nominations. Working with a highly professional team of actors, excellent technical resources, and the level of financial support his work demands, Cronenberg fashions a terrifying vision of the psychological wounds that parents inflict on their children – scars that are passed along from generation to generation. If the premise is simple, Cronenberg’s execution is not; he creates a world where ugly, unacknowledged passions lurk just beneath seemingly normal surfaces. After the many light touches of Shivers and Rabid, The Brood is a carefully controlled study with tragic overtones – a story revealing a sense of despair that does not bode well for the future.

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