- Nate Adams
'Children of the Corn' review: Another forgettable Stephen King reboot
Courtesy of RLJE Films
Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn” probably holds the record for most adaptations based on a horror property. The eleventh (!!) movie in the sprawling and, aside from the 1984 cult classic, forgettable franchise, writer-director Kurt Wimmer’s take on the property attempts to bring real world sensibilities into the mix. Wimmer’s intentions and creative decisions aren’t out-of-touch (this version sports a more ecological message as opposed to religious malfeasance) considering this is the second reboot within the last fifteen years. But as it stands, the original “Children of the Corn” thrived (and was terrifying) because it explored how impressionable young minds were compared to their adult counterparts. You can sense some of those seeds here, but at the expense of showcasing a living, breathing, CGI creation of He Who Walks Beyond the Rows, which not only devalues the horror factor of the OG source material, it destroys any ambiguity that left audiences to wonder if Malachi and his evil cohorts were really sadistic murderers.
Since “Children of the Corn” was a short story, it opened the floodgates for creative liberty, and Wimmer has made some drastic choices. On one hand, you have to admire the bold swings, but none of them add up to much in the end. For instance, this version takes place in Rylstone, Nebraska, as opposed to the fictional locale of Gatlin, where the farming community is falling on tough times. The town was already plagued with disaster when a local teen entered a children’s day care center and killed all the adults inside, only for law enforcement to arrive and gas him out with harmful chemicals that killed him and over a dozen children.
Cut to the present and Rylstone is struggling because townsfolk were convinced to team up with a corporate farming entity who’s harmful pesticides have damaged their crop soil. In an attempt to bail them out, the town is wondering whether or not to take a buyout from a government program that’ll effectively pay them to stop planting crops. This doesn’t please young Eden Edward (Kate Moyer), a survivor of the aforementioned daycare tragedy, who enlists her fellow group of tykes (whom have an unhealthy obsession with the corn) to revolt against the hierarchy, leaving local activist, Bo (Elana Kampouris) to talk sense into them. Naturally, things go too far and the blood and bodies start flowing.
Wimmer’s attempts at spinning “Children of the Corn” into a parable on the dangers of modern-day farming and chemical usage ala “Dark Water,” are notable, but it doesn’t mesh with the design of King’s original framework. Not to mention the sudden, senseless violence mixed with an overabundance of gore sends weird signals on exactly what Wimmer is trying to say. A better script could have made a point about how the environmental decisions of past generations had led the children to revolt against the town’s clueless inhabitants. When you think about it, Eden and her peers will be the ones paying for the mishandling of climate change and corporate greed, especially as it pertains to a small rural Nebraska town like Rylstone, but the metaphor comes in the shape of an ugly CGI supernatural corn monster that’s more comical than scary.
Had Wimmer cut the awkward corn beast in the final minutes, perhaps there would’ve been room to suggest Eden was angry at the world for running her small town into the ground. There’s nothing scarier than an army of children, brandishing bloody scythe’s, demanding change from their local leadership, without the weird mystical element thrown in. Still, “Children of the Corn” is content being a dreary reboot destined to live alongside the crummy sequels until someone inevitably tries taking another stab at the property ten years from now.
CHILDREN OF THE CORN opens in theaters Friday, March 3rd before a digital release on March 21st.