'The Brood' was the first film David Cronenberg made with a decent budget, cast and score. The result was his first film to gain an audience beyond horror fans.
It's essentially a divorce psychodrama (the director described it at the time with typical deadpan humour as 'my version of Kramer vs. Kramer') that proceeds from a simple premise: what if it were possible for violent emotions to be given embodiment? Samantha Eggar and Art Hindle play a couple whose marriage is breaking up. He is looking after their young daughter; she is in therapy with a psychiatrist (Oliver Reed) whose controversial experimental method - 'psychoplasmatics' - may or may not be helping her to come to terms with her relationship with her parents and husband.
Cronenberg has admitted that the film is personal and autobiographical. He also described it as 'humourless' - but by this he simply appears to have meant that there are few moments of relief from the intensity of the feelings on display. 'The Brood' is certainly intense, but also a rather chilly and repressed film that bursts out in brief episodes of violence before the climactic confrontation. The characteristic feel of a Cronenberg film is fully present.
Some viewers may find the 60s/70s pop psychology that underlies 'The Brood' hard to take. It's also hard to avoid the conclusion that there's a strain of unexamined misogyny that runs through the whole film. Nonetheless, good performances from Reed and Eggar - who approach their roles with proper professional seriousness - and a strong supporting cast carry 'The Brood' along with conviction.
This 2005 Anchor Bay double-disc set contains both the 88-minute UK release and, for the first time in the UK, the 'uncut' 92-minute version as released in the US, albeit in an NTSC-to-PAL transfer. This second version is important mainly because it restores nearly thirty seconds of cuts made to the climactic sequence, whose omission Cronenberg insists significantly distorts the audience's understanding of what is happening (hard to be more explicit without introducing spoilers).
Essential for fans of Cronenberg and fans of 70s horror cinema.