AUGUST 15, 2012
One left! With this viewing/review of Children Of The Corn IV: The Gathering, I only have one of the nine (NINE!) Corn flicks to review for HMAD (that would be part II, aka the only other one to get a wide theatrical release). I feel that only then can I consider myself a true American hero. Have YOU reviewed all nine Children of the Corn movies? Did you even know that there WERE that many?
Anyway, it's halfway decent for a movie that has fuck all to do with the series. There are children, and it takes place in the midwest (not Gatlin, however), but otherwise there's no real relation to anything before or after - even series mainstay He Who Walks Behind The Rows sits this one out. It's a shame that they didn't follow up on the cool ending of Urban Harvest, which saw the "magic" corn being shipped all over the globe, but alas - that would obviously be out of this movie's budget range. Hell they didn't even really go to Nebraska - it was shot in Austin and LA.
But at least it was replaced with an interesting story about a boy preacher who was murdered decades ago and is now looking to be reborn. To do so he needs the blood of the towns-children, as well as someone else who was lied to and abandoned as he was. It takes not one brain cell to determine who that child may be, but it beats the usual religious nonsense, and packs in a surprising number of gory murders, including a hilarious bisection of the town doctor. It also has a curious choice of weapon - apparently mercury is the only thing that can stop Josiah, so you have mercury bullets and even a mercury shower during the climax. Hey, beats silver.
The problem is that it's not particularly exciting or suspenseful. The murders help some, but the pacing is ill-suited for such things. The first time we see Naomi Watts (yes, she's the star of this one) at her hospital job, it seems like all the kids in town are already sick, so there's no buildup to it whatsoever. But then things slow down again for a subplot about a family who planned to move that night and were stopped when the wife was killed by the children and the husband was accused of it. Nothing against these folks, but they're clearly just there for padding, and the two stories take too long to really intersect. Worse, we know the answers to all of these "questions" - we know he didn't do it, we know the kids aren't just having the flu, etc. Basically you're just waiting around for the backstory.
Oh, and for Watts to "reveal" that she is in fact the mother of the little girl she is calling her sister. The girl is told her mom is actually Karen Black, which even though she's only like 5 or 6 she should be smart enough to realize is complete bullshit. Come on movie, you're already asking us to believe that Black could produce Naomi Watts - you expect us to believe she's still having children in her 50s (especially when Watts' character has come back home after suddenly leaving years ago)? Come on.
Speaking of Black, it's a strange choice to cast her as a character who has seemingly suddenly gone crazy. Throughout the film she acts like pretty much every Karen Black character (a demented weirdo), so it's incredibly difficult to understand why everyone is suddenly so concerned (or why Watts would be compelled to return home after all these years). It's like in True Lies where Jamie Lee is supposed to be shocked that her giant husband is not a computer salesman but an Arnold Schwarzenegger type. Dee Wallace or someone - that would make sense. Also, Watts has another kid that is wholly unnecessary - they could have used it for some Sophie's Choice type silliness (she lied/abandoned them both, no?) but he's just sort of around, like they wrote his character out of the script but forgot to tell the actor.
Since the movie wasn't grabbing my attention I began wondering how cool it would be to have all these different sects meet up for some sort of summit, where they can determine their powers, actual goal, etc. It seems every movie has a new group of murderous, corn-loving children, with their own backstory and leader, so it'd be funny to see them all meeting in the basement of a Holiday Inn or something and figuring out territory and what not. I think it'd be a real treat for the series' 10th installment.
And on that note, I gotta say - this is probably the longest running horror series in which not one entry could be described as a really good movie, or even far and away better than the others. You'd think in nine goddamn films they'd get it right once, but the best in the series (basically, the two versions of the original) are "Pretty good", with a couple others being terrible and the rest just being "eh, fine" - the scale of the entire series is like C+ to D. Maybe that serial killer version that my cable box described for Revelation will come along and finally get it right. Even if it takes years, I'd even resurrect HMAD for that one.
What say you?