The Brood Screen 96 of 13 reviews

The Brood

1979

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  • [Cronenberg's] third and most totally successful venture into body-horror exploitation, in which emotional repression—that shared specialty of cold-climate countries—breeds actual children, with Samantha Eggar as the proud mother of a litter of homicidal rage babies. (It should be mentioned that almost all of the series will be projected on film, and if this is the same print of The Brood that I saw when freshly struck a couple of years ago, its traumatic images have never looked better.)

  • I had always been too scared to see this film by one of my favorite directors. Glad I waited. I saw it at exactly the right time. It was slightly different than I'd feared, though still terrifying. I didn't realize it was a prequel to A Dangerous Method. As my grandmother used to say: Never have children in a cold climate.

  • David Cronenberg turning his own ugly feelings about his messy divorce into a disturbing dive into psychological scars of family. Art Hindle’s blank face is the perfect foil to such dissection and the film has some of the most effective horrifying images put on film particularly when they are the most simple (as a 15 year old those little deformed hands coming from under the bed really did a number on me).

  • Set in deepest Canadian winter, juxtaposing harsh brutalist exteriors against scarcely less inviting cinder-block and wood-panel interiors, The Brood gives off the impression—as most Cronenberg films do—of a neat, clinically surgical procedure, that despite the mealy horror set pieces, its auteur is in supreme command of his communiqué. Nothing could be further from the case, and the results are vital.

  • Back when I initially saw it in my single¬ton, childless twenties, I was certain that it was a black-comic satire of the role experimental psychotherapy played in a take-no-¬prisoners custody war... I remember the squirm-to-laughter ratio as roughly one to one. Revisiting it now, as a wife and mother, I saw an emotionally realistic horror movie about the collateral damage of divorce. And I found it infinitely more squirm-¬inducing than laugh-provoking.

  • The Brood — which I rewatched for the first time in at least thirty years — is a knockout. After some promising but more amateurish earlier efforts, such as Shivers (1975) and Rabid (1977), here is where he begins developing his mastery. I agree with Olivier Assayas that Cronenberg must be approached, foremost, as a writer-director — in the sense that there is an uncommonly novelistic density to his best stories, dialogue and screenplays.

  • Cronenberg’s ideas were so far beyond what cinema was capable of expressing that it took him until his fifth feature for his technique to catch up with his genius. Though Shivers and Rabid, his twin psychosexual zombie movies, are the best kind of assault on your senses and unconscious fears, The Brood is sensitively, seamlessly crafted.

  • Cronenberg eschews explanation as long as possible and saves the most unsettling images for last, which makes for a very surreal, very ‘70s slow-burn.

  • [The acting] helps immeasurably in making us concentrate, despite the numerous vivid distractions along the way, on the characters' inner torments. Their extravagant emotions and passions are all the more vivid given the chilly sterility of their bland environs - whether these be the cosily stultifying suburbs of their stolidly middle-class city, the bleak concrete playground of a modern school, or the dreaded institute, nesting bulkily among its Canadian infinity of largely-leafless trees.

  • Like [Eraserhead], The Brood is partly about a man’s disgust at his female partner’s reproductive capability, which is itself surely linked to the man’s sexual desire for this female partner and how this desire is thwarted or even quashed by this alien process that the woman is undergoing. This is a horribly sexist and somewhat juvenile response, as I’m sure both filmmakers understand, but its effectiveness as the subject for a horror film is undeniable, and each film exploits this horror well.

  • "Bad and fucked-up mommies," appalling and enthralling, are the heart of this grand fable of repulsion, shot by Cronenberg with frigid vehemence in the midst of his own divorce and child-custody anxieties. Shedding the grindhouse skin of the early films for a cool-clinical sheen, it exhumes the deformed feelings of relationships erected on circles of pain while locating a bruised new dignity in the characters caught in them.

  • Canadian splatter-movie auteur David Cronenberg was a lot more interesting when he made movies for drive-ins instead of arthouses, and this visionary horror film ranks among his most disturbing, provocative work... It's haunting, it's terrifying, it's original, and it illustrates the governing theme of Cronenberg's work: The mind is constantly at war with the flesh, and flesh is easier to destroy.

  • In some ways it's the most direct and personal of Cronenberg's films, radiating a sexual revulsion that is the most vivid expression of his profoundly puritanical spirit, yet the execution is disappointingly blocky and tepid.

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