Movie Review: Children of the Corn
A new remake of the Stephen King story understands small-town life, but doesn't know how to tell a good story (or cook up decent effects).
The return on investment for Stephen King is particularly high with “Children of the Corn.” The horror author’s 1977 short story — about 10,000 words, or approximately 2% of the novel “It,” in length — has led to 11 films and a TV series.
Quite an output for the concept “what if rural kids decided to kill everyone.”
It certainly worked in the original film, an atmospheric 1984 tale of road-trip terror starring Linda Hamilton. I can’t speak to the nine other films in the franchise (and what an exhausting movie marathon that would be), but the latest reboot is not nearly as successful as its ancestor. For what little it gets right about small-town decay, it gets more wrong about … well, making a decent movie.
Everyone in this film talks an awful lot about the problems facing their small Nebraska town; bets on modified crops have failed, and hopelessness is sinking in. The adults are happy to accept government subsidies and give up their corn-cob dreams; the children, including idealistic teen Bo (Elena Kampouris), are bizarrely committed to the idea of continued agriculture.
Bo hopes to raise awareness of the town’s blight and plight. Pint-sized Eden (Kate Moyer), however, has other plans. She’s the survivor of a terrible accident that claimed the lives of several children, and she doesn’t think much of the adults in town. She is, however, a big fan of He Who Walks, a homegrown beast she believes lurks in the cornfields (but who may in fact be the product of hallucinogens shed by the decaying crops).
In short order, the proceedings turn murderous and the kids take over the town. Bo desperately tries to get help, but Eden has surprises in store — nothing, she keeps telling us, ever really dies in the corn.
Except, perhaps, your interest in the premise. While this “Children of the Corn” is mercifully short, what’s left isn’t of much intrigue. There is some amount of thematic resonance in the story of neglect and desperation, but the characters discuss those themes to death; this is a script that doesn’t examine ideas, it merely shouts about them. And though the gore and frights mostly earn a passing grade, horror fans have no lack of options for blood and guts these days; we’re not so desperate for a shock that we need to endure snoozers such as this.
And, at the risk of offering a slight spoiler: If you can’t afford to create a decent-looking dumb CGI corn monster, don’t write a movie with a dumb CGI corn monster.
In fact, that statement requires no caveats: Don’t write a movie with a dumb CGI corn monster.
My Rating: 3/10
“Children of the Corn” is now playing in select theaters.