The Brood - Blu-ray Review

'Children are often seen as higher than adults; it is no coincidence that the Brood are ultimately revealed to be living on the upper floor of a two-story building.'

David Cronenberg's The Brood arrives on new Blu-ray next week, presumably looking smarter than ever it did, if a film with this gruel-filled an ending can ever look that smart.

Before the final third kicks in, Cronenberg excels at taking us on an gritty Horror ride through the concept of divorce, separation and child custody. Self-written, The Brood was famously imagined by Cronenberg at a time when he had just experienced the same things, waging a bitter custody battle with ex-spouse Margaret Hindson.

In that way, you might expect the female lead, Samantha Eggar, to come out of this looking particularly bad and there is certainly an element of that, Nola Carveth (Eggar) at least taking on the role of antagonist, if not ultimate perpetrator of the film's crimes.

Where Cronenberg is most successful in The Brood is where he does manage to step out from his deep-seated misgivings about his ex-wife and attempt to see things from the children's point of view. The murderous Brood of mutant children, who show up surprisingly sparsely, increasing the effect when they do, often find themselves partaking in shots almost showing their point of view, Cronenberg elevating the camera to peer through stair railings at adults down below. It is no coincidence that they are ultimately revealed to be living on the upper floor of a two-story building.

In this mould too, the director seems keen to reverse several status quos. Children are often higher than adults; the two older parent figures in the film seem the least in control; scenes with Oliver Reed's doctor, Hal Raglan, often feature characters reversing who they consider themselves to be or to be talking to. There's some vicious vitriol here but there's also a tangible longing for different destinies too.

So whilst the ideas are all here, the execution is sometimes a little off. The shocks which start during the mallet-wielding attack of a teacher in a classroom get weirder and weirder, culminating in a final scene less shocking than it is just thoroughly odd, trademark Cronenberg body-Horror. Reed as Raglan is a little wasted, hovering somewhere between antagonist and anti-hero and the crushingly obvious Howard Shore score (watch for the point where it appears to turn into Psycho) shouts at you almost omnipotently.

For those well tired of contemporary Horror, this will prove a trip and maybe even a treat, but the ambiguous, murderous Brood seem to be the only element Cronenberg is in complete control of, passion possibly taking over his ability to maintain complete coherency.

The Brood is released on new DVD and Blu-ray editions on Monday 8th July 2013.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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