Friday, July 5, 2013
Dr. Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed) runs the Somafree Institute where he practices a form of psychiatric therapy known as psychoplasmics in which patient are encouraged to release their suppressed anger through physical manifestations on their bodies. This is demonstrated when we see one patient, during an on-stage treatment, lets out his anger against his father and reveals sores all over his body. When Frank Carveth (Art Hindle) picks up his daughter Candace (Cindy Hinds) from the clinic, where her mother and Frank's ex-wife Nola (Samantha Eggar) is undergoing treatment, he discovers bruises and other injuries on her back. Frank suspects Nola has beaten their daughter, but he is blocked from seeing Nola by Raglan. Frank tries to investigate the Somafree Institute to build a case against Raglan, but at the same time, strange, deformed, dwarf-like children begin murdering the people in Nola's life who have caused her pain, including her mother and father.
Families and the bonds between parent and child are meant to be built on love and support, but in The Brood, Cronenberg paints the nuclear family as a harmful and even dangerous entity, one built on shame, guilt, abuse, neglect, and anger. In a form of cinematic psychoplasmics, Cronenberg physically manifests these negative traits of the family in the form of literal monsters. Those deformed children, we learn, are literally the children of Nola's rage, brought to life and driven by her anger at those around her; she has repressed all those emotions her whole life, and Raglan is now encouraging her to release them in the most horrifying and literal of manners. The Brood is the horror of allegory.