Children of the Corn / Stephen King’s Children of the Corn (1984)

Children of the Corn is probably a text book example of a horror franchise that just doesn’t know when to stop producing more installments. On a certain level I do get why they keep churning out one misconceived sequel after another. The idea of a rural town in the middle of nowhere being controlled by a homicidal cult made entirely of children who have killed all the adults and now worship a mysterious demonic entity associated with the corn fields, that is actually a compelling, creepy and memorable premise. But when we find ourselves at the point where there are in total seven sequels and one TV movie remake, with diminishing returns in every case as far as I can tell, I think we can all agree this franchise needs to be put to sleep indefinitely. Admittedly from all of the nine movies I’ve only seen this one, so it certainly is possible that there are few raw gems in the mix rather than all of them being abysmal, but I doubt it. Just by looking at the plot synopses they just seem to get dumber and dumber with each new installment.

As  it tends to be with most Stephen King movie adaptations, this isn’t that great. You have an interesting core premise and a semi-decent cast (considering how most of them are kids) but the story doesn’t come anywhere near living up to its full potential and the ending is entirely disappointing and more than a bit deus ex machina. Everything about the lore is too vague and the movie lacks a proper memorable antagonist with gravitas. Malachai is just a snotty brat whose authority stems from his Bowie knife, Iisac is meant to be a super creepy adolescent cult leader but the kid playing him doesn’t pull it off convincingly and he has barely any real screen time. As for the dark entity the cult worships, He Who Walks Behind the Rows, he sounds interesting as a concept but fails entirely to leave a lasting impression due to how little he and his influence is built in the actual story, and his defeat is downright laughable.

You can very clearly sense how the story is based on a short story rather than a proper, fully develop novel, given how little substance and content there is in terms of actual plot. Rather than getting a thrilling, slow burn rural horror story, it feels like you’re watching a poorly hashed out elevator pitch that’s been stretched to a feature length movie. Linda Hamilton and her hubby by accident come in contact with the cult when they run over a kid with their car, they are then lured to the town that the cult inhabit where they get separated, there’s some talk about human sacrifice when Linda gets captured to raise the stakes, blah blah blah, the good guys only wins in the end because somebody read a bible quote once, the end. Overall, it’s an inoffensive but pretty frustrating movie to sit through due to how uneventful it ends up being. It’s a movie based on a Stephen King story, you pretty much know what you’re in for the minute you press play.

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