Stephen King’s 10,000-word short story, Children of the Corn, has had a long cinematic history; With over 10 films and a TV series, it is King’s most adapted short story to date. The 11th installment, simply named Children of the Corn, may have more blood than the original but is significantly less fun (not that the original was that much fun, to begin with).
Written and directed by Kurt Wimmer, Children of the Corn follows one of the teenage residents instead of the traditional outsider. Bo (Elena Kampouris) is ready to leave her small, rural town of Rylstone and attend college in Boston. Genetically modified crops have ruined the corn, and Bo wants to study biology so she can save it, but the adults want to sell their land for government subsidies.
However, that won’t fly with Rylstone’s youngins; after being laughed out of city hall for asking to vote in the big plan, they decide to adopt another approach: trial by murder. Led by the sadistic 12-year-old Eden (Kate Moyer), the children fight back against their opposers in the name of “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.”
If Children of the Corn had been more of a campy romp, it might have been a fun film, but it feels largely empty. It’s bloodier than its predecessor, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s scary. There’s torture, dismemberment, and premature burials, but the scenes feel tacked on as if they were requirements for a horror movie. Despite looking like the Walmart version of an Ent, the corn monster itself was kinda fun but didn’t have enough of a role to have any staying power.
One of the only improvements on the original is Eden. She takes on the roles of both Isaac and Malachai with religious devotion and a thirst for violence. She calmly orders her subordinates to spray the adults with herbicide as revenge for what the crops have had to go through. Moyer approaches the role less as a messiah and more as a typical bratty kid, which feels more realistic than John Franklin’s portrayal. The only thing that felt off was how she became the leader in the first place. At the beginning of the film, she’s very much a meek child. When the film enters its current timeline, she’s already changed to a sadistic villain.
Despite planting seeds for social commentary, the film doesn’t bloom into anything worthwhile. Wimmer sprinkles in messages about protecting the environment and children being shafted by the boomer generation but never develops them further. Instead, he focuses on Bo, who watches these children run amuck but never does anything about it. She had the potential to be an interesting “screen queen,” but Wimmer doesn’t give her enough material to go on. Instead, she stumbles around, putting her friends and family in danger because of her stupid decisions.
It’s unclear why it’s so hard to get a good adaptation of Children of the Corn, especially when it already has the key ingredients. A film about a murderous cult of children should be an automatic homerun, but after 11 tries, it might be time to put the franchise to rest.
Children of the Corn is in theaters now. Available on demand and digital March 21, 2023. Watch the trailer below.
Featured Image Courtesy of RLJE Films
Children of the Corn - 2.5/10