David Cronenberg's The Brood is a pretty twisted picture. If you're familiar with his other work, then this won't surprise you. The Brood was made right around the same time as Scanners and Rabid. It's right smack in the middle of when he was making some of his most disturbing films.
Frank Carveth (Art Hindle) is the father of a five-year-old daughter named Candice (Cindy Hinds), and the husband of a mentally ill woman, Nola (Samantha Eggar). Nola is a patient in a facility that practices a new type of psychiatry where the psychiatrist takes on the roles of people in the patient's life in order to get them to express their deep inner feelings.
One day, after picking up his daughter from her weekend visit with Nola, Frank notices Candice has been beaten, presumably by Nola. This upsets Frank greatly, and he storms down to the psychiatry building to tell them Candice will not be returning for her weekly visits to her mother.
A little later on in the week, Frank takes Candice to stay with her grandmother for the day while he works. Not long after he drops her off, there is a disturbance in her kitchen. Grandma goes to investigate, and is brutally murdered by what seems to be a child wearing a red coat. Candice not only sees the body, she also sees the killer. It seems to have traumatized her as it would any normal child.
As the film goes on, more people who are either family members of Nola or friends of her husband and daughter are killed by these children who we now learn are essentially mutants. After these miniature killers kidnap Candice, Frank realizes he must hunt them down if he ever wants to see his daughter again.
Although there are very few scenes where the creatures are actually present, The Brood is a very scary film. The brilliant musical score by Howard Shore really adds to the suspense and elevates the fear factor to the next level. There are many great performances, especially by Samantha Eggar and Oliver Reed, who plays the psychiatrist, Dr. Hal Raglan. Ms. Eggar really brings Nola’s insanity to the next level.
Many films with a child in one of the lead roles are brought down by poor performances by the child actor. This is not the case in The Brood, as young Cindy does a fantastic job as Candice. Although she has a very prominent role, her lines are few and far between. This really works in portraying her inner terror at the horrible things she has seen.
I would recommend The Brood for anyone who loves horror films or early Cronenberg. It was a little too scary for me, so if you get scared fairly easily by movies, then you might skip it.
If you are a fan of Cronenberg's newer work, like A History of Violence or Eastern Promises, then you should know his earlier work, like The Brood, is very different. It's much cruder and grittier and feels a lot less Hollywood. I prefer his newer work, but I certainly appreciate his older stuff.