Throughout his career, David Cronenberg has uncovered new, often grotesque ways of externalizing the repression and alienation of contemporary life. Rarely, though, has he taken as restrained a route as he does with The Brood. The director introduces the central premise of his story -- mutation as therapy -- in the first sequence, but its full implications are mapped out only in stages, culminating in a truly chilling finale that veers from stark, otherworldly suspense to set piece gross-out. Shivers, Cronenberg's feature debut, moved at a similarly deliberate pace, but it was full of violence and gore almost from the start. In The Brood, Halloween-style point-of-view sequences build a sensation of lingering unease while jump cuts and cutaways help maintain dramatic tension during the action sequences. Cindy Hinds, as the pale, blank-faced Candice, echoes the scary children of Village of the Damned and anticipates the similarly hapless heroine of Steven Spielberg's Poltergeist. Samantha Eggar's haughty, self-obsessed Nola, meanwhile, establishes the Cronenberg ice-queen archetype that Genevieve Bujold would fill so indelibly in Dead Ringers. Although hardly the most influential of the director's early and mid-period horror exercises, The Brood stands up as a fully realized study of modern discontent given terrifying shape. The stars, special effects, and larger budgets of his later films sometimes give his messy subtexts too slick a sheen, but here the naturalistic production values and affectless art direction complement a storyline of slowly unfolding dread.