It never quite struck me until my latest viewing of The Brood just how brutal it is that Frank Carveth (Art Hindle) strangles his estranged wife to death. Not that I normally take acts of strangulation lightly but I guess I always accepted Frank's murder of Nola (Samantha Eggar) as a horrible but necessary act. After all, he's trying to safely extract his kidnapped five-year-old daughter from the Somafree Institute where she's in the bunk house of the deadly Brood and the only way to stop the Brood from killing Candice (Cindy Hinds) is to stop their "mother" who is psychically willing them to attack. Frank isn't really the killing type, I don't think, but Nola really forces Frank's hand in the matter. Oh, excuse me - I mean forces his hands.
Cronenberg's films have always been lauded for thier precognitive acumen and philosophical depth. But amid all the provocative, esoteric ideas that his films have offered, Cronenberg says something very simple and true in The Brood - an observation born not from intellectual study but from bitter experience:
On that count, Frank worries that Candice has already been screwed up before she's even six. Sadly, all evidence suggests that he's right.
In his 1981 book Cult Movies, critic Danny Peary fumed at The Brood's final sight of Candice, writing "...It makes me angry that Cronenberg ends the film by showing welts on [Candice's] arm (signifying that her rage is building up in her just as it did in her insane mother when she was a child) - why can't contemporary filmmakers ever let us leave the theater thinking it's over and all is well?" I don't know what movie Peary was watching but I'd like to know how the Hell all could possibly be well after the events of The Brood.
That said, I always went along with it when Frank and Candice drive off at the end. Sure, Candice's trauma isn't something that a bowl of chicken soup is going to remedy but at least she has her one sane parent so some good days might lie ahead. This time around, though, I couldn't help but think that Frank and Candice's time together is surely almost at an end. Frank himself might know this but doesn't let on.
The whole murdering your child's mother thing...even if the police never show up at his door asking questions (and I can't imagine that they wouldn't), it's still a thing, you know? And that's a shame because, as The Brood shows, Frank really tried to be a good dad.