It took me forever to get around to seeing the first Children of the Corn movie but I remember all the video covers of the sequels in my local Blockbuster (I am old). It’s crazy that it took them a full 9 years after the first movie to decide that what this short story by Stephen King really needed was a full blown franchise of movies. I mean, I get that it’s cheap to have your movie be about corn and creepy kids since both are cheap and plentiful. Still, stretching the premise over what was eventually 8 movies, not including the 2009 made-for-TV remake, means you’re going to have to start thinking outside the box.
The movie follows two young brothers that were originally from Gatlin, Nebraska (where the first movie takes place) and then get adopted and move to Chicago once their father goes missing. By missing we mean crucified and has his eyes and mouth sewn shut to be like a scarecrow. He is still up there at the end of the movie which means he was just sitting there, for anyone to see but apparently the exhaustive search for the boy’s father didn’t involve looking higher than eye level and never using peripheral vision. Anyway, Eli is the youngest and is totally the devil and Joshua is the eldest and just wants to fit in with the other kids at school.
Being a sequel, this movie has crazy supernatural shit going on right from the get go. The father is killed by the corn. Eli kills and generally fucks with several people throughout the movie using powers such as teleportation, pyrokinesis, dream invasion, turning corn into bugs that get in soup and then turn the soup into bugs, mind control, and illusions. This is all apart from the corn that can kill people whenever it wants. The last 5 minutes of the movie also has He Who Walks Behind the Rows show up as a giant tentacle monster thing and it is seriously the weirdest, out of nowhere ending.
The movie can’t seem to decide what it wants to focus on. You have the plot with the tension between brothers where one wants to fit in and the other is the devil. You have the plot with the tensions of the new parents trying to get the hang of having kids when one is the devil. There is the story line of children rebelling against their parents by sacrificing adults in the name of the devil. You also have the plot of the father trying to go international with the devil’s corn. Any real message or symbolism ends up getting jumbled in with the rest of the stuff so nothing really emerges as a strong central theme, like the first movie’s focus on religious fervor.
The kid playing Eli does a great job of being both menacing and charismatic, since he has to be a cult leader and all. Unfortunately, his ability to gain followers ends up being shown as being mystical mind control instead of actually being able to recruit people. I feel like the “corruption of our youth” angle would be better if they were swayed by words instead of spooky corn magic. Speaking of spooky corn magic, the special effects in this were about on par with the original movie’s, which is sad because that came out in 1984. Also like the original, most of the particularly bad effects just plain didn’t need to be included. The movie would have been fine without the fireballs and giant tentacle monster.
I’d give the movie a 3 out of 5. It was fun to watch and Eli definitely carries the movie but it definitely felt a bit disjointed.
Favorite thing in the movie: Tentacle monster grabs Joshua’s girlfriend and in the shot it is obviously a Barbie doll.
Least favorite thing: Too much supernatural power stuff. The point of Children of the Corn is that the kids are religious zealots not corn wizards.