Children of the Corn (2020)

de facto film reviews 1 star

If nothing else, Kurt Wimmer’s Children of the Corn reboot successfully answers the age-old question plaguing the horror genre, “Did this need to be remade?” with a resounding “No.” The film is the 11th entry in the Children of the Corn franchise, beginning with the iconic 1984 adaptation of Stephen King’s 1977 short story. It is also, bizarrely, the second of back-to-back reboots following the disastrous 2009 remake by Donald P. Borchers. Unlike the latter film, however, Wimmer’s modern adaptation eschews much of what gave the ’80s picture its soul and hobbles together a disjointed eco-horror creature feature instead.
The 2020-filmed Children of the Corn adaptation, finally picked up by RLJE Films and Shudder in January 2023, follows college-bound Boleyn Williams, played admirably by up-and-comer Elena Kampouris in her horror film debut. Bo is an aspiring microbiologist who is concerned with the dying corn crop actively plunging her hometown of Rylstone into economic turmoil and wishes to restore the soil. Unfortunately, the townsfolk, which allowed agricultural giant GrowSynth to pump chemicals onto the crop, need more time; they either subsidize the land to the federal government in the next two days or risk losing their primary source of income for good. When they vote for the proposition, young Eden speaks out in opposition but gets laughed out of the town hall.
Eden proves herself the film’s principal antagonist by taking matters into her own hands with drastic action: rounding up and planning to kill every adult in Rylstone to create her perfect existence, akin to Alice in Wonderland’s Red Queen, her idol. Eden essentially plays this adaptation’s version of Isaac from the 1984 film by director Fritz Kiersch without the religious fanaticism that defines his character. Unfortunately, Eden’s sudden rise as the children’s leader could be more believable, and the worst part is that Eden could not be any less creepy if she tried.
The script implies that a supernatural presence called “He Who Walks” manipulates Eden into doing its bidding after she wanders through the corn for four days following a mass murder at the Rylstone Children’s Home, which is fine. But, unfortunately, her subsequent brainwashing of the Rylstone children is almost exclusively offscreen. Furthermore, there is no religious angle to convince the audience that these children could spontaneously accept the genocide of every adult in town and engage in such horrible behavior.
Unlike the original adaptation, this generational plot element hangs around the film for a while but quickly becomes secondary to the conflict between Bo, her friends, and Eden. The pacing gets choppy at this point; Children of the Corn feverishly becomes an exercise in redundancy, as consecutive scenes show Eden and her followers executing some random adult, only for Bo to interject and hilariously fail every time. Her continuous efforts to be a hero begin with a declaration to fight the good fight and save Rylstone, but Bo cowardly pulls away at nearly every turn. Wimmer’s writing of the protagonist is some of the weakest in a horror film in quite some time, which is a shame given Kampouris’s impressive performance.
In the film’s final act, Eden summons He Who Walks, causing Children of the Corn to devolve into a creature feature reflective of the Sci-Fi Channel during the early 2000s, featuring a lanky, uninspired, and disappointing CGI monster. While He Who Walks is responsible for some of the movie’s cooler kills, it is somehow even less terrifying than the more obscure groundhog-like entity in the ’80s adaptation.
Ultimately, aside from Kampouris, some decent cinematography, and acceptable gore effects, Kurt Wimmer’s Children of the Corn is a letdown. The movie suffers from hokey acting, terrible dialogue that sounds like it was written solely for the trailer, and a host of characters and themes that go nowhere to be taken seriously. And no, it isn’t scary by any objective standard. Wimmer’s adaptation is a giant leap from the ’80s horror classic, but that only works with good direction and a tight script, which are sorely missing here. Maybe this property should have left the corn and stayed dead once and for all.
Now playing in theaters and streaming exclusively on Shudder 3/21
By |2023-03-03T04:45:17+00:0003/03/2023|4 Comments

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  1. Matt Wasserman 03/03/2023 at 4:40 am - Reply

    Looks awful

  2. Marvin Sommer 03/03/2023 at 5:19 am - Reply

    One of the few films I plan to skip. Talk about beating a dead horse. The original, came out in 1984, was not bad.

  3. Keir Arts 03/03/2023 at 6:22 am - Reply

    I’ve heard bad things. Sounds like the environmentalism in this film is supposed to be the religion which comes across potentially dismissive about genuine concerns.
    I’m.a horror junkie so I’ll likely end up watching it.

  4. Jerry 03/03/2023 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    I didh’t know about that one – which is the best one out of all of them would you say?

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