Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Brood (1979)

Frank's wife Nola is at the Somafree Institute being treated by Dr. Raglan who uses a new therapy called Psychoplasmics. This involves role playing to help the patient release their anger towards those who've wronged them in the past, or anyone that  causes them anguish.  Look out!   It's not clear why Frank picked this type of treatment for his wife, or why Dr. Raglan seems so creepy.

When Frank picks up his daughter Candice after a weekend visiting her mother at the institute, he finds her back covered with bruises and scratches.  Alarmed, he meets with Dr. Raglan to determine what happened. Raglan is unconcerned until Frank says Candice will no longer be allowed to visit, which Raglan claims would not be good for Nola since it's part of her agreed upon treatment.

Raglan and Nola do their role playing therapy, which always results in Nola getting angry at her mother for beating her and her father for not protecting her.  As Nola speaks, she gets crazy eyes, but this all seems to be part of the therapy which Raglan has written about in his book titled The Shape of Rage. And apparently the shape of rage is a small deformed child with a harelip and a snow suit, who grabs a hammer and beats you to death.

Soon Frank is having to deal with strange little children with no navels and a death wish, as well as the dead bodies of people he knows, and a child who seems to be at the center of things.  Is Raglan's therapy the cause, or is Raglan evil and controlling these children?  And what's going on with Nola and her crazy eyes?  And why does Raglan kick the other patients out of the Institute?  And if you answer the phone while babysitting and a crazy woman in an Institution accuses you of having an affair with her husband, why don't you just say, "hey lady, I'm just babysitting your kid,"  rather than freak out and put a pillow over the phone.

This is a a slow burner as it relies on atmosphere and it's not clear what's going on until the end.  Oliver Reed is sufficiently creepy as Dr. Raglan, with his cold dead stare and middle age bloat.   The murders are violent and disturbing (but it's the a 70s main stream film so there's not much blood). Also there's a truly disturbing scene near the end when what's really going on becomes clear.  Bleech! So if you need lots of action and gore, you won't enjoy this.

Now in a totally unrelated note that has nothing to do with the movie, please enjoy this song by Portland Maine's own garage punk greats The Brood.  It is a 1986 cover of the The Five Canadians song, Writing on the Wall.

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