Friday, October 11, 2013
The Brood (1979 film)
Written and directed by David Cronenberg, The Brood is the story about a man who is in a child-custody battle with his mentally-ill wife where a series of mysterious murders happen as the woman‘s doctor believe that his research might‘ve something to do with this. The film is an exploration into the world of family as well as a doctor’s attempt to delve deep into the mind of those who had been abused only for one of those patients to go way too far. Starring Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, and Art Hindle. The Brood is a chilling and terrifying film from David Cronenberg.
The film is about a man who is embroiled in a child custody battle with his mentally ill wife as she is in the care of a renowned psychologist named Dr. Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed). Dr. Raglan’s technique known as psychoplasmics has Dr. Raglan be the source of trauma and abuse for his patients to react emotionally as one of them is Nola Carveth (Samantha Eggar) who is embroiled in a child-custody case with her husband Frank (Art Hindle) over their five-year old daughter Candy (Cindy Hinds). A series of mysterious murders involving those close to Frank and Nola start to occur where Frank makes a chilling discovery as does Dr. Raglan. It all plays to a woman acting out her own emotional and mental traumas as she starts to get all out of control while her husband starts to learn more about the doctor’s methods and the drawbacks it occur.
David Cronenberg’s screenplay does have ideas that play to the schematics of what is expected in the horror genre once it concerns various characters getting killed off. Yet, it all plays to a man trying to understand why are these people getting killed as the killers are these very strange, deformed dwarf children. Even as Frank decides to talk to a former patient of Dr. Raglan who is filing a suit against him over the drawbacks of Dr. Raglan’s technique that has him dying of a mysterious form of lymphoma. Much of the film does play to a traditional structure as far as what is expected in horror where the third act would have this climax where Frank has to face the source of these murders once Candy is suddenly involved in the scenario.
David Cronenberg’s direction has him finally coming into his own as a filmmaker where there is a sense of restraint in the way he plays up to the suspense as well as knowing when to hit certain rhythms for the kill. Yet, a lot of the direction is quite simple in terms of framing while he also uses some wide shots and close-ups to play up some of the atmosphere of the film. For the scenes of horror, much of the violence is definitely stylized as well as the way characters are killed off. Especially in how it plays to the mystery of the film where Frank not only tries to find out about the murders himself but also Dr. Raglan once he is convinced that he might have something to do with what is happening as he’s very close to Nola in the treatments he’s giving her. All of which leads to this very chilling yet horrifying climax that involves the source as well as the outcome of Dr. Raglan’s technique. Overall, Cronenberg creates a very scary yet intense film about family trauma and a man’s fight for his child.
Cinematographer Mark Irwin does brilliant work with the film‘s cinematography to play out the entrancing yet colorful look of the locations nearby Toronto including some of the interiors such as the home of Candy‘s grandmother. Editor Alan Collins does excellent work with the editing in not just using some rhythmic cuts to play with the suspense but also for the scenes of horror where it plays up the momentum and its impact. Art director Carol Spier does fantastic work with the look of Dr. Raglan’s building and his home as well as the home that Frank lives in.
Special makeup work by Dennis Pike and Jack H. Young do amazing work with the look of the dwarf killers as well as some of lymphoma rashes on some of Dr. Raglan‘s patients. Sound editor Peter Burgess and sound recorder Bryan Day do superb work with the sound from the way objects are used to kill to the sound of telephone rings and such in some scenes to play up its suspense. The film’s music by Howard Shore is incredible for its chilling yet mesmerizing orchestral score to play out the suspense and horror that occurs in the film.
The film’s remarkable cast includes some notable small appearances from Nicholas Campbell as Dr. Raglan’s assistant, Michael Magee as an inspector, Robert A. Silverman as a former patient of Dr. Raglan who is suing him, Gary McKeehan as a trouble patient of Dr. Raglan, and Cindy Hinds in a wonderful performance as Frank and Nola’s five-year-old daughter Candy. Harry Beckman and Nuala Fitzgerald are terrific as Nola’s estranged parents Barton and Juliana Kelly who are both concerned about Nola’s treatments where the former finds himself confronting Dr. Raglan. Susan Hogan is superb as Candy’s teacher Ruth Mayer who becomes concerned about Candy’s well-being as she befriends Frank while answering a call from Nola that would be troubling.
Art Hindle is brilliant as Frank Carveth as a man trying to keep his daughter safe from her mother while dealing with the chaos of the murders as well as the killers that he faces forcing him to find its source. Oliver Reed is great as Dr. Hal Raglan as a man trying to help people sort out their emotional traumas only to find out that his treatment with Nola has some serious repercussions as he realize what he must do. Finally, there’s Samantha Eggar in a fantastic performance as Nola Carveth as a very troubled woman who acts out all of the abuse and trauma she faces as she starts to become more insane while wanting her daughter back.
The Brood is a phenomenal film from David Cronenberg. Due to the top-notch performances of Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, and Art Hindle as well as it’s engaging visual style. The film is definitely a horror film that has enough scare and gore that fans of the genre will love but also a captivating story about family and traumas that would appeal to fans outside of the horror genre. In the end, The Brood is an absolutely horrifying yet spectacular film from David Cronenberg.
David Cronenberg Films: Stereo - Crimes of the Future - Shivers - Rabid - Fast Company - Scanners - Videodrome - The Dead Zone - The Fly (1986 film) - Dead Ringers - Naked Lunch - M. Butterfly - Crash - eXistenZ - Spider - A History of Violence - Eastern Promises - A Dangerous Method - Cosmopolis - Maps to the Stars
The Auteurs #26: David Cronenberg: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2
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