I’ll admit: I didn’t have high hopes for the newest film Children of the Corn, an apparent remake of the classic 1984 horror film. Based on Stephen King’s short story of the same name, the new film is directed by Kurt Wimmer (2015’s Point Break). ). Despite premiering at a Florida film festival in 2020, it wasn’t picked up for release until 2023. But the new version of Children of the Corn turned out to be a surprisingly satisfying slasher.
The film opens in an orphanage in Rylstone, Nebraska. Eden, a young caretaker, greets another boy as he emerges from a cornfield. He takes a big knife from a table, goes inside and starts killing the adults. When even the authorities can’t stop him, they arrive with a tranquilizer for cows and gas everyone inside. Eden is the only survivor of the massacre, having wandered into the cornfield, where she spent nearly a week before authorities found her. She is then “adopted” by the town’s pastor.
Some time later, the surviving adults meet to discuss an offer from “big corn” to grow GMO corn, laden with pesticides and other chemicals that ruin their crops. From there, the city has no choice but to participate in a subsidy to no grow corn. When the children’s views on the matter are rejected, some of the older teens plan a public shaming, invite a journalist into town, and plan to hold a fake “trial”. The journalist does not arrive, and by the time the older teens arrive, Eden has already killed some of the adults. The rest are arrested, only to be gassed as before, and transferred to a pit in the cornfields, where they are buried alive. Things only get wilder from there.
This new Sons of the Corn is less a remake than a reimagining. Most notably, adults are not the focus; children are. And unlike the original, there are no religious fanatics running the city. Instead, the new film features a town of children being led by Eden. Played by Kate Moyer, Eden is adorable and disturbingly evil. And her reasoning behind the slaughter of the adults is a combination of ecological commentary and general teen angst and anger.
Eden is the best part of the movie. She has a certain insanity to her that feels very authentic and very grown-up. She wasn’t just a child who complained about going to bed later or a broken toy. She had genuine problems and concerns; she just solved them with a more “Michael Myers” approach than most people would.
The government steps in, promising the town riches if they go against their traditional farming methods, using genetically modified seeds and toxic pesticides. When that fails, adults are ready to walk away, taking the quickest way out. Meanwhile, the kids are worried about their future, thinking about their legacy and what kind of world their parents are leaving them. It’s all very obvious, but at the same time, it serves the plot without feeling heavy.
Furthermore, Eden added trauma due to the abuse she suffered at the hands of the pastor (who pays for her unspecified – but undeniable) sins. Her experiences give you the feeling that Eden was close to losing her mind, even before the influence of He Who Walks, the supernatural entity that lives in the corn. I’m not sure if these obvious reasons are just because they fit the story or if it’s because mean youngsters for no discernible reason are just too disturbing.
The rest of the cast is mostly a blur of faces. The only other character who gets screen time is Bo, played by Elena Kampouris. She is a 17-year-old girl who is leaving the city to study microbiology, with the intention of returning to fix the crops. She leads the other older teens in their attempted rebellion, but these teens don’t do much more than agree with Bo. There is the journalist who is talked about more than seen. There is the pastor, whose sins are mentioned but never seen. There’s Bo’s father, who might be the town’s mayor – it’s never specified, and Bo’s younger brother, who is overlooked when he joins Eden’s cause. Then there are the legions of children who are just credited as “Eden’s Posse”.
The One Who Walks is seen too much in this film. In the original film, you don’t see the One Who Walks Behind the Rows until the film’s final act, but in this version of Children of the Corn, the entity is seen frequently and isn’t particularly frightening. He was designed to look like a corn devil, although ultimately he looks like a child’s drawing brought to life. I can’t help but wonder if this is meant to be some sort of anti-GMO message – that GMOs and pesticides have created He Who Walks. The film does not make clear what its exact purpose is. Regardless, the filthy, bloodstained children are far more frightening, and because the One Who Walks is so present, it loses its mystique.
Children of the Corn is much bloodier than the original film. While it lacked the shocking and seemingly unprovoked mass murder of the original at the beginning of the film, it more than made up for it with some truly bloody deaths. One person has their eyes gouged out; another is torn in half. There was even a scene with the kids basically playing with pig’s blood. If you like your bloody horror movies, this one is for you. Maybe it’s because of the extra blood, but the music was a bit too heavy, making it unnecessarily dramatic, when the blood and situation did a good job.
Ultimately, Children of the Corn is very different from the original, but it is a remake that has been usefully and importantly updated. Rather than just remaking a good movie, a new spin was put on the concept and updated with current concerns such as GMOs, overgovernment and climate change. The screenplay, written by director Kurt Wimmer, was solid – nothing special, but nothing bad either. The acting was good, especially the lead Eden. It was fun, it was bloody, and there were terrifying, bloodthirsty kids running all over the place.
Children of the Corn is in theaters March 3rd and on demand March 21st.