A franchise that just will not die, Children of the Corn has come a long, long way since Stephen King published the short story in his 1978 collection, Night Shift.
The 1984 original movie adaption is something of a cult classic these days and has spawned eight sequels and one remake. Some are good, most are bad, and no-one seems to understand that corn isn’t scary. Regardless of who walks behind the rows. You can read our definitive ranking of the series to date here.
Once again, it is time to quiver in fear at the sight of cornfields rustling in the wind. Except this Children of the Corn movie is a reimagining of the story, and not a remake.
Which should be reason to celebrate. We’ve already had one horrendous remake; we don’t need another. All this movie needed to do was be different to stand out from the pack. Which it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good movie unfortunately.
Written and directed by Kurt Wimmer, Children of the Corn stars Elena Kampouris, Kate Moyer, Callan Mulvey and Bruce Spence.
Set in the town of Rylstone, Nebraska, the children of the town are at loggerheads with the adults over the future of the town. After treating their corn with GMO’s, their harvests have failed and the town is on its knees. Being offered government subsides to bulldoze the corn crops and move on is an appealing prospect for the adults but the kids see it differently. In particular, young Eden (Kate Moyer) who is sick of adults making bad decisions for them.
So sick of it is she, that she rounds up the rest of the town’s children and they slaughter the adults of the town. Which is familiar territory for anyone that is familiar with the Children of the Corn story. That’s about as close to the original as you’re going to get though.
Instead of having outsiders arriving, this movie instead puts the focus on someone who lives within the town. A teenager named Boleyn (Elena Kampouris), who is planning to leave for college soon but gets caught up in Eden’s psychotic plan. Unable to help the adults for fear of being murdered herself, but not willing to go along with what Eden wants. Her attempts to create peace fail though and she has no choice but to stop Eden and the monster that has influenced her from within the corn.
Yes, the big reveal in Children of the Corn is that it is a supernatural horror movie and ‘he who walks behind the rows’ does exist. Sort of. More like King envisioned it, but as we all know, the legendary writer doesn’t always nail it and few can ever do his writing justice. Up until it’s revealed, Children of the Corn was struggling to keep its early momentum but once the monster enters the fray, it becomes laughably bad. Every time we see it, it gets worse.
It didn’t need to be this way, all the blame lands on the writing, as there are clear attempts to modernise the story. Yet, those elements are both poorly jammed in and dropped completely when it becomes supernatural. The environmental and sociopolitical themes could have really elevating this story into something truly fresh and interesting, but the writing really fails to make any of it land.
Then we have the tone. Children of the Corn might have fared better if it embraced the silliness, but it doesn’t. The opportunity is there, Kate Moyer’s Eden is certainly a character who borders on the silly side of things. However, it just takes itself way too seriously. Showcased by Elena Kampouris’s Boleyn who spends far too much of the movie standing around and looking horrified.
It also jumps from lacking horror or violence, to having absurdly gory moments that seem completely out of place. Again, this would have been perfect if the movie was embracing this aspect, but it doesn’t.
These are just some of the movie’s bigger problems but it is littered with tons of smaller ones that slowly pile up until you’re just left frustrated.
Children of the Corn (2023)
The Final Score - 4/10