This is a depiction of my real feelings. I am tickled that Stacie Ponder has resurrected Final Girl Film Club, but there could be no more painful choice than a CHILDREN OF THE CORN movie. It's not the worst franchise in horror while WITCHCRAFT is still real, but it still sucks, a whooole lot. To be fair to these movies, they're working with a concept that's unworkable and we'll get into all that, but first you should know that this is a remake/reboot of the lengthy series of original CHILDREN films. I'm sure we all know the basic story, as it's an American classic, but here's the Q & D: a bunch of kids in Gatlin, Nebraska, take to worshipping He Who Walks Behind the Rows, a variant Earth-2 Jehovah of sorts. They kill their adults and also kill outlanders, like horror convention tongue-kisser Linda Hamilton. This rich concept is mined for a baffling number of sequels, none of which are very good, although I'll agree that Urban Harvest is fun in a nutso way. This CHILDREN was a return to Stephen King's original story and aired on Syfy, just like SHARKNADO. It's allegedly even worse than the CORN canon to date (mmmm, corn cannon!) and also reputedly darker and grimmer.
This is sign #1 to get ready for dark grimness. This baby cowboy is apparently the grandfather of the Corn Cult, instituting some weird fundamentalism after a bad drought. Already, this film is shackling itself. Because it's hard to make kids that frightening—you can push them over easily, try it sometime. CHILDREN tries to compensate with a lot of upsetting red-state yelling about sacrifices and pig-sticking. It's really not enough to establish a scary atmosphere, though. I mean, look:
Seriously! Right? You would have to show some determined violence right at the outset to make Amish kindergarten chilling. This could work if the film started off with kids massacring people (as the original did, I think). Otherwise, you're just not going to get me to believe in the murdering capability of this squirt. Problem #2:
These are our outlanders, Vicky and Burt. We meet them in medias res, in the middle of an epic argument. It's always a good idea to introduce your protagonists while they're shrieking irrationally and Vicky shrieks irrationally like a champ all the way through this. "Is that what your Sarge taught you?? Out in the jungle??? Along with how to cut gook tits off??" She's so nasty and unlikable and it's hard to see why. Maybe she was supposed to be a foil for Burt, who is otherwise just this boring cipher who went to Vietnam. If the movie could have shown them interacting with other people and Vicky acting like a human, it would have done wonders. As it stands, she just feels like this lunatic who is angry all the time for no reason. Stephen King contributed to the script, so presumably this is what he wanted, but I'm at a loss to explain why. I also can't explain dialogue like "That's been your whole thesis as a wife!", words worthy of Tommy Wiseau.
Some things about the film were enjoyable. The first half has a lot of nice cinematography and this film, like TEXAS CHAIN SAW, utilizes very bright daylight scenes to ramp up tension. People always think about darkness when they think horror, but oppressive heat works just as well. And at least the first half isn't boring, what with all the crazyland arguing and interesting design choices.
The latter half of CORN slows down a lot, comparatively. We get Nam flashbacks and marathons through corn. If the first half is TCM 1, the second is TCM 3, just a big chase scene that gets pretty dull and monotonous. Even so, this was not as bad as I'd expected! I'd say that its level of quality is right in line with the existing CHILDREN OF THE CORN movies...it makes about the same number of mistakes, no more, and stumbles into URBAN HARVEST territory with some of the deranged dialogue. Plus, some of the visuals must be intentionally hilarious.
I'm going back to the 20s now, y'all have fun with your no vacancies for corn defilers...