I haven’t seen any of David Cronenberg’s films from the 1970s. In fact I haven’t seen too many of his films in general. So I was pretty stoked to see that Criterion was putting a couple of his better regarded films on Hulu Plus. I didn’t know much about this film, other than it had something to do with creepy kids. That seemed to be a staple of 70s horror, maybe thanks to The Omen. All I knew is that it was probably going to include some disturbing fleshy moments.
Nola Carveth (Samantha Eggar) has some serious emotional issues. Her husband Frank (Art Hindle) has her undergoing experimental therapy under the care of Dr. Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed). Raglan is able to work with his patients to expose their pain and anguish in physical manners, such as raised bulges and protuberances that appear instantly. While this is shocking and disturbing, Frank begins to wonder if this is actually helping any of the patients.
His doubts are validated when his daughter Candice (Cindy) returns from a visit with her mother with bruises and scratches on her. Frank tells Dr. Raglan that he wants to stop the visits, but Raglan insists that Nola is at a critical phase in her treatment and stopping the visits will only cause things to get worse. Well, things do get worse, but in a way no one expects. While Candice is staying with her grandmother a strange little “person” attacks and kills the grandmother. Frank fears for his daughter’s life. When more attacks continue he begins to wonder if Dr. Raglan is connected to the fearsome attacks by the murderous Brood.
- A slow building story that gets more disturbing as it goes along
- The finale really packs a punch
- Acting by the three leads helps the story along
- If you don’t buy into the concept at the heart of the story, the film will not work for you
- Some viewers may find the pint sized horrors to be silly looking
- Some of the supporting cast goes a little over the top
I found this film to be a nice slow build to a very disturbing climax. The concept of manifesting your strong emotions into a physical form is an interesting horror idea and Cronenberg uses it well. The main cast does a great job with Oliver Reed providing a cool intensity that makes you immediately distrust him. Beneath the horror is the idea that physical abuse and torment within a family can literally be passed down from generation to generation.
Scores (out of 5)
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