Fright Fest Review #20: The Brood (1979)

With these kids, bedtime can be murder.
With these kids, bedtime can be murder.

Subgenre:  Killer Children

Summary:  While a man tries to expose the psychologist working with his wife, deformed children commit a coinciding series of murders.

Review:  As you might guess from the above summary, The Brood is a difficult film to synopsize.  Thankfully, it’s quite coherent during an actual viewing.  We begin by being introduced to Dr. Raglan, a psychologist who’s created a new technique called “psychoplasmics” that supposedly allows patients to be cured of mental illness through bodily changes.  Frank, whose wife is under Raglan’s care, doubts the method, and wants to put a stop to it for fear that his wife is abusing his daughter during their visits.  Meanwhile, deformed children begin murdering those around Frank.  Coincidence?  (No, it’s not.)

The Brood suffers from a slow pace and a less-than-seamless plot, but it still boasts moments of real creepiness.  It doesn’t display any of Cronenberg’s trademark body horror until very late in the film, but its climax is suitably unsettling and grotesque.  The origin of the mutant children is an intriguing one, and the movie has some interesting ideas about the darker side of parenting.  Its acting is quite good as well, with Oliver Reed’s mysterious, whispery Dr. Raglan the clear standout.

The Verdict:  The Brood may not be a complete success, but it’s worth a look for those after something a little different.  I give it six-and-a-half preying prepubescent progenies out of ten.

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