Brood, The (UK - BD RB)
Marcus is grossed out by this Cronenberg horror on Blu-ray disc...
Frank Carveth (Art Hindle) is becoming increasingly concerned about his ex-wife Nola's (Samantha Eggar) secretive treatment at the sinister 'Somafree Institute of Psychoplasmics'. Headed by cult figure Dr Raglan (Oliver Reed), his controversial and extreme methods seek to unleash his patients rage which take on physical manifestations. As Nola's increasingly psychoticanger is vented during her sessions, brutal murders befall those at whom it's directed. Is there a connection? This is a David Cronenberg film, of course there's a connection and it's pretty damn gross with it too.
The Brood is a psychological tale on two fronts. One is based in conventional doctor and patient conversations and what secrets the out there doctor's approach will uncover and the other is the constant question of what the hell does that creepy killer in the baby's winter onsie have to do with all this? The big draw is how are these two sides connected and as we travel closer and closer to finding out the answer to that question, Cronenberg grabs hold of us with two hands and locks us in to finding out, so when he reveals his big mystery, we can't look away.
The combination of great dialogue, that's layered and engaging and a handful of well acted performances makes this gross out horror more than just a series of special effects and puddles of blood. Cronenberg keeps things restrained for the most part and doesn't let the mood ever slip into anything that would undermine where this is all going. The much applauded, yet often controversial director does gross out in horror better than most. His work on The Fly is still as effective as it ever was but the big reveal in The Brood is something else.
Not wanting to give too much away to those that have never seen The Brood, the closing scenes here are, well, gross. I'm a fan of great practical effects in horrors but generally they don't do anything to my stomach or get ever make me feel a bit sick. The Brood's big reveal does just that to me and I consider myself a pretty hardened viewer. I think it's because the film is so grounded in reality that the big special effects ending hits like a hammer but again Cronenberg doesn't let it get away from him. Despite the absolute B-movie-ness of the reveal it feels utterly genuine.
The visuals of Nola's big secret is an absolute masterclass in shock and awe when it comes to horror. From the first image of the utterly horrific visuals, Cronenberg allows his actress to relish in the grossness of the situation. On top of that the story is actually coming together in great ways via Oliver Reed's 100% commitment to the dire situation. Additionally, in the world of child actors, little Cindy Hinds sells 'scared kid' in spades and really ups the reality of the increasingly tension filled finale. To say more, would do a disservice to this true WTF ending but for any horror fan new comers who want to give this thirty four year old horror a go, I urge you to go in blind to the story because the film's age hasn't dampened its effect.
The pink skin tones of the actors are immediately impressive here, especially with Oliver Reed on stage under a simple spot light and deep black backgrounds. Detail is great with hair and beards as well as fabrics and skin textures. The darker elements of the film suffer a little from looking grubby with detail dropping away quite considerable but it's usually only for short scenes.
The cold exterior scenes look very natural with reds leaping out of the wintery setting of the beige 70s town. Jumping to interiors there's a real warmth to the boosted HD image. There's some distinct grain, that kills the more shadowed elements of the image, especially in wider shots but tighter close ups are really quite impressive for a 34 year old film.
Colours work well throughout the film and are the strongest element in this HD presentation but the detail levels here are really quite impressive. Coats, jumpers and faces really do benefit from sharp edges and well handled colours and shadows. When all of these improvements merge in scenes like the murder in the grandmothers garishly decorated kitchen, the HD upgrade here is totally felt.
The dialogue sits strong a central in the mix and the string based Howard Shore score supports it all with a fair bit of power, reaching out from the track with real effect. Those sharp strings really do generate the sense of unease here the more the tale pulls you in the more the strings work their desired magic.
Sound effects are crisp within the mix and even the smallest of scrunches or taps feel well defined. Bigger elements like bassy thumps or shattering crockery also play well and for a stereo mix the limitations are hardly felt outside of the odd bit of hollow dialogue.
'Producing The Brood' (11:10 HD) talks about the Canadian production due to the tax deductions introduced there while 'The Look of Rage' (13:13 HD) discusses the visual nasties in the film and their basis in reality.
'Meet The Carveths' (19:48 HD) is a Fangora interview with the stars of the film. The father and daughter combo of Art Hindle and Cindy Hinds. There's lots of talk of Oliver Reed and the pair's experience on the set in a fairly causal chat.
'Character For Cronenberg' (10:24 HD) is an interview with Robert A Silverman, a bit player in the film and the big draw is 'David Cronenberg: The Early Years' (13:16 HD)which is an interview with the always interesting director about his early days, his early films and his road to The Brood.
Few in film do gross as well as Cronenberg and even fewer manage to ground that nastiness in reality enough to turn your stomach. The Brood is a slow burning mystery that's pay off works entirely due to it's director's control of his story. Age hasn't hurt this one at all and more modern horror directors should take more notes from The Brood when it comes to selling a concept, no matter how far out there it goes.
The disc looks great and has a solid stereo track that out performs exceptions a lot of the time. The extras are also better than I expected, so Cronenberg fans should be happy to add this one to the collection, even with a lack of commentary.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 8th July 2013
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 English
Easter Egg: No
Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle
Length: 93 minutes
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