Written by: George Goldsmith
Starring: Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, John Franklin, Courtney Gains, Robby Kiger
The power of religion and belief in a higher being can never be understated because it can leave people doing the strangest things. In the worst cases, it could lead to horrifying violence, which happens to be the case in Children of the Corn. A film warning about the extremes of religious foundations and the damage it could do on young people.
On their way to move to a new town Burt (Peter Horton) and Vicky (Linda Hamilton) get lost and end up in Gatlin, Nebraska to ask for directional help. Upon their arrival, they notice the small town to be ghastly empty and soon learn about how the children have killed all of the adults under the leadership of 12-year-old Isaac Chroner (John Franklin).
As cheesy as any 80s horror movie can get, Children of the Corn seeks to bring a genuinely disturbing Stephen King story to the silver screen. Even with its larger shortcomings, it proves to be an enjoyable experience because of the bones of the story and how it comes through with the characters involved. The story puts us through the perspective of this young and loving couple looking forward to the future ahead of them. They have no idea what is going on when they drive into this small town but neither do we. The film opens with the destruction of a group of adults within a diner as a young kid looks from outside the window with enjoyment. No real reason gets given but we know these teenagers mean business. The rest of the story divulges into trying to understand the nonsense happening and the survival of Burt and Vicky.
The message of this film makes itself incredibly clear when referring to worshipping false idols and the danger of blindly following religious doctrines. The sheep-like mentality of these children drives them to murdering the people who have cared for them and they do not give it a moment’s thought. It truly speaks to the malleable nature of a younger person’s mind where they can easily be manipulated. It could also be applied to adults and how they also fall into this trap, but displaying it in children demonstrates the horrifying danger that comes with this lack of free thought. As we learn, the children follow Isaac, who proclaims to be a prophet and the only person who can listen to the words of this higher being. He has no issues talking down to anyone who speaks against what he says.
While the story has its disturbing elements, Children of the Corn does not provide the thrills and bombast of most horror films. It lays out the information in a proficient manner and does not try to scare you in the process. It instead focuses on the horror of the subject matter rather than trying to arouse any scares through its filmmaking. This style makes it a bit unconventional, especially when compared to more recent Stephen King adaptations.
The 80s cheesiness oozes out of this film like an overstuffed grilled cheese sandwich. The blood looks incredibly red, the acting leaves much to be desired even with Linda Hamilton, and the visual effects utilized definitely made me chuckle on several instances. There’s no mistake which decade this film saw its release because it demonstrates everything occurring in 80s films for better or worse. I would be very interested to read the source material this film adapts because much of the magic and darkness of this film remain unexplored. Several characters appear with abilities I found myself wanting to learn more about, including the foresight of Sarah (Anne Marie McEvoy) and how Isaac Croner could speak to this false idol the children worship. So much richness exists in this ambiguous world but not diving into it worked just fine for this film because it moves at a good pace and only really shows what becomes absolutely necessary for the movie.
Certainly not one of the better Stephen King adaptations, but still a fine enough film to turn on, Children of the Corn displays some horrifying material in a fairly straightforward way. It demonstrates why you should never move to Nebraska. Seriously, the amount of corn found became a bit distressing. Several moments meant to indicate dread actually made me laugh because of the cheesiness of it all and it ultimately proves to be a fun watch if one does not take the filmmaking style too seriously and just goes with the ridiculousness of the story.