By BREANNA WHIPPLE
Starring Elena Kampouris, Kate Moyer, and Callan Mulvey
Written and directed by Kurt Wimmer
Reboots and remakes are pumped out at a rate to make any horror fan’s head spin. While it is all too easy to write a remake off solely because the original has reached legendary status, a reboot often comes out of the woodwork that breaks the mold. Kurt Wimmer‘s CHILDREN OF THE CORN is one such instance.
We’re all familiar with the iconic tale penned by Stephen King about a town full of children corrupted by something in the vast cornfields surrounding their little town of Gatlin, Nebraska. The army of tots ends up slaughtering every adult in sight to create their own society. In the 1984 film adaptation, a couple breaks down near Gatlin and is forced into warfare against a group of not-yet-legal foes. If you’re expecting much of the same with the 2023 installment, you’re dead wrong.
2023’s CHILDREN OF THE CORN slows things down quite substantially. Rather than fast-forwarding into a parentless future, Wimmer focuses more on the children and how the corn affects them. Bringing in elements of potentially cyclical disturbances, Wimmer shows the audience an initial failed parricidal venture. Basically, a kid decides to slice and dice a handful of adults while clearly disturbed by external forces, only managing to slay a few before being killed. Adding an extra touch of morbidity unseen in the previous installments, this failure allows for adult retaliation – a genocide of a more horrifying kind.
Gassing the remaining children is a drastic precaution to take under any circumstance, even if they’re being influenced by something otherworldly. Rather than saving the adults, this instigates a legacy of blood that begs vengeance. Leaping forward in time, once again a special child is spending way too much time in the rotting corn fields. She seems inseparable from the moldy stalks – so much so that she takes it upon herself to handle the situation entirely when the adults of Gatlin propose plowing the fields to save their dying community.
A peculiar addition that stands out is the everpresent throughline of dark fantasy. Eden Edwards (Kate Moyer), the corrupted young girl orchestrating all the madness, is obsessed with the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland, emulating her at times, even. And the entity in the corn has a physical form we get to see. Think Swamp Thing but made out of corn stalks. It sounds silly on paper, but once you see what it’s capable of, it is quite jarring.
CHILDREN OF THE CORN is a compelling reboot, as it adheres to the bones of the initial tale rather than filler. Surprisingly, it boasts more gory sequences than its many predecessors. Horror audiences crave gore, and you needn’t look far for that in other recent reboots of legendary horror franchises. Yet, the pill here is significantly harder to swallow, largely due to the age of the aggressors. We all agree Gage in Pet Sematary (1989) is cute as a button, but we don’t want him creeping up on us with a scalpal. In Gatlin, you have a population solely of kids with blades who have no hang-ups about using ’em. Nevertheless, the strongest attribute of Wimmer’s CHILDREN OF THE CORN is his choice to focus on the children themselves.
CHILDREN OF THE CORN from RLJE Films is now playing in theatres with an exclusive streaming debut on Shudder scheduled for March 21.