22 October 2010

The Brood

Here's a horror film that's purely character driven. It's late and I wake up early, and it always bothers me when I have to make concessions of that sort but life is what it is and I can only say a little. The Brood is the product of clearly a different era, but you can't deny that every single scene comes from the drives of the characters. Frank is driven to solve the mystery and protect his child, and everything he does is to that end (though leaving her with her heavy-drinking grandmother early on seems strange, I guess it's better the known evil of boozy grandma to the unknown evil of crazy mom beating her). Hal the doctor is driven to cure those who are sick, though he uses extremely unconventional methods to do so. And at the heart of both stories is understanding Nola, whose every desire and fear is being translated into a literal child-sized monster. Everything, every strange and creepy event or crisis or turn in the story, can be traced back to these three characters. Every action is motivated, and every motivation is consistent and clear. Sometimes the underlying psychologies of the characters are a little too on-the-nose, a little too direct, I admit, but so be it. That's part of the creepy tone of the story. Her most basic urges are becoming manifest. That's what it's about.

Excellent work with child actors and with putting children in the scenes, "witnessing" the violence and horror, too. A bit of nice casting combined with some red-eyed makeup and fake tears and you really believe her both as a traumatized child and a child under attack. The film wouldn't have worked if it had shied away from the children's suffering or fears, or if the children hadn't been in real peril. That's all I have tonight. Like I said, it's late, and in all honesty I hadn't intended to watch this whole film tonight, but I got caught up in the tight pacing and short running time, and just kept watching.

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