Children of the Corn (2023) Rated R for violence and bloody images Limited Release in theaters and Shudder Production/Distribution: ANVL Entertainment/RLJE Films Running Time: 93 Minutes Budget: $10M Director: Kurt Wimmer Starring: Elena Kampouris, Callan Mulvey, Kate Moyer
Reinventing Stephen King’s original short story, the young children of Ryleston, Nebraska led by a girl named Eden, purge the adults of their town following the demise of the town’s corn crop economy from chemical contamination of the soil.
Kate Moyer’s Eden is the replacement for John Franklin’s Isaac from the original version released in 1984. She has some great acting chops, and her co-star Elena Kampouris similarly does well as Boleyn, the older teen foil opposing Eden’s corn cult leadership. Sadly, there is not much else here that I can arguably say in support of the film.
The original movie starring Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton is far from a great film, but it still had its effective moments and something of a mystery to its antagonist behind the army of sadistic children. An atmosphere of dread hung in the air and within the seemingly peaceful fields of crop. In this reboot, there is a glaring absence of that atmosphere. And the filmmaker’s forgot that sometimes less is more. Revealing “He Who Walks Behind the Rows” was a big mistake, as it was a major strength of the effectiveness in the original. When those corn rows moved by an unseen force, your mind raced as to the cause and what the presence truly was. This time around, the makers decide to bear all, and it comes across as pretty underwhelming. And worse, the enemy is shown as surprisingly weak when the protagonist comes face to face with it.
The Bottom Line
I strongly suspect that King was inspired on some level by Kipling’s Lord of the Flies, which is a fantastic book. This version brings in an element of Shymalan’s The Happening, as it seems that the antagonist is a direct result of man-made catastrophe and Nature’s act of revenge through the manipulation of children. While I appreciate the attempt to add a bit more depth to the more simple approach of King’s story, the movie falls flat by presenting too much. Effective horror relies on the viewers own wild imagination, or by absolutely subjecting the viewer to menace-inducing set pieces, sound effects, and shocking imagery. I think this movie failed on all of those fronts. If not for some solid performances from the two female leads, it would have been much worse.