Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring David Anders, Kandyse McClure, Preston Bailey, Daniel Newman
Directed by Donald P. Borchers
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Just a few weeks ago Dimension Films announced their intentions to remake Children of the Corn. This past weekend a remake of Children of the Corn premiered on television. I thought to myself, wow; that was fast. But – no, this is not the Dimension remake of Children of the Corn. This is Syfy’s remake of Children of the Corn and the man reaping this corn is Donald P. Borchers, one of the producers of the 1984 film version as well.
How entertaining is this rendition of Children of the Corn? Good cinematography. It hits the right grim tone. Otherwise, about as enjoyable as getting a popcorn seed stuck in your teeth.
Now I know I read Stephen King’s short story eons ago but cannot remember it vividly because it never made a lasting impression on me. Same goes for the 1984 film version; about the only thing I remember of it is thinking it sucked. On the other hand, Children of the Corn 2: The Final Sacrifice I can recall in great detail because it was an unintentional laugh riot. I saw that turkey at the theater twice and howled with laughter both times. After that I think there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 43 direct-to-video sequels. I’m not sure of the exact number because I lost count somewhere around the 9th installment. Who’d have thought Children of the Corn could spawn nearly as many sequels as Friday the 13th? I suppose it’s understandable given how cheap they are to make. All you need are some children and some corn. If memory serves me correct one of the made-for-video sequels was set in the inner city so corn isn’t even an absolute necessity.
It is my understanding that this take on Children of the Corn is more faithful to the short story. Borchers took a draft of the script that Stephen King himself wrote for the 1984 film and simply rewrote parts of it. That must explain such wonderful lines of dialogue as “Why don’t you put that in your God and smoke it!” That line had to have been all Borchers. I refuse to believe that even the guy who wrote and directed Maximum Overdrive – the film King himself described as his “moron movie” – could pen a line of dialogue that worthy of a spit-take.
The film opens up with unhappily married interracial couple Burt (David Anders, “Adam Monroe” on season 2 of “Heroes”) and Vicki (Kandyse McClure, “Officer Dualla” on “Battlestar Galactica”) driving through farmland on their way cross country to divorce court it would seem. He’s a Vietnam veteran. She’s a hateful bitch.
Vicki is such a relentless harpy, never missing an opportunity to verbally berate her husband, that within the opening minutes she already ranks as one of the most hateable protagonists in recent movie memory. When Burt finally gets fed up with her hysterics and slaps her I was disappointed he didn’t use a closed fist and followed it up with a few more. I don’t advocate spousal abuse but if Vicki had been a man nobody would have blamed Burt for finally having put up with enough verbal abuse and beating the crap out of this miserable wretch of a human being. Yet later on the movie has the nerve to want you to sympathize with Vicki and believe Burt might actually be upset if something were to happen to her.
The film is set in 1975. Why? I don’t know. I guess Borchers didn’t want to have to include the now obligatory scene where someone holds up a cellular phone and complains of not being able to get a signal. Had he included such it no doubt would have been followed up with Vicki yelling at Burt about how he can’t get it up either or insultingly wondering as to why it was so much easier for him to kill innocent children in Vietnam than it is getting a cell signal.
Virtually nothing at all occurs for the first half aside from these two’s endless arguing and the corn kids constant proselytizing. You know what; let me just break the events of the movie down for you by time increments.
45 minutes: Opening credits. Burt and Vicki argue non-stop. Hitting a kid with their car who already had his throat cut makes them argue even more vociferously. They continue their shrill squabbling as they go in search of help. The bickering is periodically broken up by scenes of child prophet Isaac spouting off platitudes about evil outlanders, sinners in general, the sanctity of the corn, and the greatness of He Who Walks Behind the Rows.
10 minutes: Children attack the car Vicki is in while deaf Burt walks about an empty church a few yards away. Burt begins punching children in the face and trash talking Isaac when the kid continues to spout off more platitudes about evil outlanders, sinners in general, the sanctity of the corn, and the greatness of He Who Walks Behind the Rows.
30 minutes: Burt is chased inside the cornfield for roughly a half hour. Even more platitudes about evil outlanders, sinners in general, the sanctity of the corn, and the greatness of He Who Walks Behind the Rows.
5 minutes: Gratuitous sex scene. Something major happens off-camera. Yet more platitudes about evil outlanders, sinners in general, the sanctity of the corn, and the greatness of He Who Walks Behind the Rows. The end.
Does that sound like a thrilling movie experience or what?
The couple is contemptible and nothing you see or hear from any of these deranged fundamentalist children spouting off their twisted worldview comes close to being even as remotely unsettling as that seen in a documentary like Jesus Camp. It’s impossible to take seriously the little kid cast as the prophet Isaac; with his pip squeak voice and ridiculous oversized hat he’s like an Amish Mouseketeer. His blood-thirsty hench-teen Malachi is played by a young actor who would be perfect for the Alexander Godunov role in a high school production of Die Hard. We never get a look at He Who Walks Behind the Rows. We don’t even get to see what fate ultimately befalls Burt.
For all the corn-worshipping kids anti-fornication talk throughout the film two of the teens get up on an altar and start having sex in front of the other kids. Guess these pagan kids have to have sex eventually to replenish their numbers. Not like children grow on stalks. Also, young girl boobies can help sell a film, especially to international markets.
When the moment comes for the kids to go after Burt, Borchers briefly achieves some of that Children of the Corn 2: The Final Sacrifice corniness. Burt is practically smiling as he tells the lynch mob how he’s a military-trained tough guy fully capable of beating up dozens of kids; the comically “Rah! Rah!” musical score accompanying the scene being the sort of melody you’d expect triumphantly blaring in a war movie as outnumbered American soldiers heroically finally fight back against enemy forces.
Minutes later, as war vet Burt is being pursued by the murderous children amid the corn, Borchers actually has him experience Vietnam flashbacks as Viet Cong soldiers appear in the cornfield shooting at him with machine guns. Rice patties, cornfields, it’s all the same.
Why don’t you put that in your God and smoke it!
1 out of 5
3 out of 5
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