2023’s Children of the Corn remake will inevitably be a great episode of How Did This Get Made?

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Children of the Corn, the movie based on the short story of same name. // Courtesy RLJE Films

When people talk about Stephen King adaptations, chatter is often focused on the big-budget efforts. The Its, The Shawshank Redemptions, and The Shinings of the world. Yet as long as those have been around and lauded there’s been a second tier toiling away in the DTV section. Films like Riding The Bullet, Dolan’s Cadillac, and Cell have made a hay day by cashing in on the author’s name. Nowhere has that been more paramount than when it comes to the unkillable Children of the Corn franchise.

In 2023 the property rises once again for yet another remake. And while it goes it does have a few tricks up its sleeve this time, it’s certainly not worth your money or curiosity to check out.

Let’s get the biggest bit out of the way first, this latest “take” on King’s novella throws 90% of the original work out the window. There’s a reference to “He Who Walks” (apparently, “behind the rows” isn’t hip these days). Murderous children are at the forefront. And lastly, corn still plays a major factor in events. Everything else here is new and not necessarily for the better.

Trading in Gaitlan of old, things now take place in Rylstone, Nebraska. A small town in the middle of nowhere, whose identity has been tied to corn forever. The big manufacturing companies promised riches to the citizens, but the land has turned its back on them. 

To make matters worse, the latest corn-related incident involved a teen emerging from a field who slaughtered all the adults at an orphanage. When the police get involved—using gas to apprehend the culprits—they inadvertently kill 15 children in the process, with the only survivor found wandering in the same cornfield. 

That little girl is Eden (Kate Moyer), a twelve-year-old obsessed with something out in the corn stalks. Something not just protecting in her eyes, but worth killing for too. While the perception is there to make her a sympathetic figure, it doesn’t help that Moyers performance is always at a 12, in a film populated by people set to a 4.

Part of the problem with the new Children of the Corn is the desire to make everything timely or saccharine. Writer and director Kurt Wimmer (yes, he of Equilibrium fame) spends more time talking about chemicals damaging soil, subsidies, and what the future generations will inherit, without giving a reason to care. Were this a drama, space could be made for it. Yet in a film that purports to be about murderous children rising up, it comes off as woefully out of place.

While a good chunk of the plot is devoted to the wiley-eyed antics of Eden, the hero of the movie is Bo (Elena Kampouris). A headstrong teenager weeks away from shipping off to college, Bo is the perfect headstrong idealist to stand up to both her misguided father (Callan Mulvey) and the machinations of Eden. 

The only issue is that Children of the Corn devotes more energy on her gasping in horror than taking direct action against the evil blighting the town. The first glimpse of a dozen small kids standing in a ditch painting tree roots with pig’s blood should be all that’s needed to realize that something is amiss and needs to be stopped.

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Children of the Corn, the movie based on the short story of same name. // Courtesy RLJE Films

For those willing to wade through the dreck, there are a few positives to be gleaned from the production. Andrew Rowlands’ cinematography is of particular note, with sweeping vistas and great use of widescreen to help cover up the minuscule budget. The same goes for the gore on-screen. While most of it is contained to the aftermath, several grisly shots show how far-reaching the slaughter the little tykes are dishing out is. 

Once things shift over to the creature feature aspect, it’s a less glowing affair though. When your “big” bad looks like a SyFy channel Groot rejection circa 2001, it’s best to keep it shrouded in mystery. 

At this point, it’s kind of a wonder why anyone bothers with a franchise like Children of the Corn. As much of a joke as the Hellraiser series was as a direct-to-video staple, they at least admitted to repurposing scripts to include Pinhead. Here Stephen King’s name is used as a prop to convey legitimacy in a film that is anything but.

If there is one positive to come out of this trying experience, it would be that Kurt Wimmer’s worst film is no longer 2007’s Ultraviolet. A true feat that no one saw coming and it is just how indicative of how bad this movie is. Children of the Corn? More like Children of the Boring. Someone dearly needs to take a flamethrower to these fields and put this series out of its misery.

[Editor’s note: we’ve got a different review of this same film that we ran earlier this week. It likes Wimmer’s work a solid 20% more than Adrian’s review, and is available here.]

Categories: Movies