Friday, October 19, 2018

Corn This Way

Year: 2001
Director: Guy Magar
Cast: Claudette Mink, Kyle Cassie, Michael Ironside 
Run Time: 1 hour 22 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

I'm starting to think that the period of me liking the Children of the Corn movies, which lasted much longer than anyone could have possibly anticipated or hoped for, is well and truly over. The general response I get when I tell people I've set out to watch all ten of these movies is "ugh, why?" and now at part seven, "ugh, why?" is unfortunately kind of becoming my mantra. 

My face as the credits have rolled on the past two movies.

Children of the Corn: Revelation is one of those ever-unpopular Dimension cash-in sequels where they presumably took a script for some unproduced movie, spruced it up with some corn and a passing mention to He Who Walks Behind the Rows, and passed it off as an entry in a franchise nobody had any reason to care about anyway. Hooray!

So here we have Jamie (Claudette Mink), a young woman with so little inner life that even the corn husks are more engaging presences. She has arrived at the Hampton Arms condominium in Omaha to search for her missing grandmother. The building was recently condemned, and for good reason. It's a rotting mess filled with "eccentric" characters who are also rotting messes. 

Her most friendly and likable new neighbor is Tiffany (Crystal Lowe of Final Destination 3), the stripper whose character trait is "takes off her shirt later." But we also have Jerry (Troy Yorke), the stoner building manager; a hilariously awful paraplegic who rolls around in his wheelchair cursing at the top of his lungs and is billed as Cranky Man (John Destry); and the truly mystifying Stan (Michael Rogers), who is a mostly shirtless paranoiac and is illegally growing tomatoes in the basement for unexplained reasons. Not that I asked.

While Jamie enlists the help of local detective Armbrister (Kyle Cassie) to dig up dirt on her grandma, she keeps seeing creepy blonde children wander around the complex and as the residents begin to be murdered one by one after receiving corn husk wreaths on their doors, she... well, she doesn't really notice for a very long time, but it might just be connected to her grandmother's disappearance. Spoiler alert: It is.

Also Michael Ironside is in approximately 22.3 seconds of the film as a priest who does exactly nothing. Honestly, I'd take Karen Allen doing nothing any day, because at least her hair was great.

It's really difficult to pinpoint what exactly is the worst thing about Revelation (and oh, how telling it is that they've finally stopped numbering these movies), but I think I'd like to start with Jamie. Her complete lack of interiority is endemic to every aspect of the film. We know nothing about where she has come from, what she did or how she lived before this moment where we get to watch her be creeped out by ten-year-olds with bags under their eyes. Everyone in the movie is like this, from the lazily archetypical boy preacher Abel (Sean Smith) to the detective who is so weakly positioned as a love interest that you might be mistaken for thinking he's just an extra. It's damning that the character who gets the most backstory is Tiffany, who gets two scenes and one of them is a bubble bath where she gets murdered by stalks of corn.

The whole movie is just empty, wandering aimlessly through a mystery that solves itself via a dream sequence before the halfway mark and then wandering aimlessly through a spate of murders that feature not one wisp of the fun special effects that have marked at least one scene in every previous entry (most deaths involve dummies falling from high places, and the aforementioned Tiffany death - which is by far the most interesting - is much too dark and poorly edited to have any sense of what's actually happening). It doesn't even pull in very many markers of the mythology of the previous films, not that any of these movies have been particularly consistent or good about that. But any link to those entries that I kinda sorta occasionally liked would have been more satisfying than this unmoored wreck that drifts off into infinity for 82 minutes.

At the very very infinitesimally least, they remembered that these kids MUST have weird hats.

There are only two reasons that I haven't consigned this movie to the purgatory of evacuating every single detail of it from my brain immediately, much like I have done with the previous entry Isaac's Return. First, there are a couple non sequitur gags that would have been satisfying in a movie that took its "killer kid" concept to a campy fun extreme (a game of pattycake with a severed hand, and a girl playing hopscotch on a Pentagram). Second, there at least is an attempt at atmosphere here. The crumbling apartment complex is in all honesty not a bad setting to have around, and the flashing green light in the emergency stairwell gives it a bit of character that shows at least one person was attempting to do something with this movie.

Mind you, that's the only attempt at style that actually succeeds in any way. Two late sequences where characters discover a herd of evil children in the hallway as presented via alternately a swim fisheye lens and night vision goggles cut incessantly back and forth and drill their attempt at spooky imagery so far into your skull that it shoots right out the back.

And as much as the effects have been dodgy in this franchise from the beginning, nobody should have told this team about CGI. We're treated to a million useless shots of CGI corn rising from the ground that have zero weight or physicality and could have just used actual corn. It's corn! It's not expensive! 

It's ironic that so little effort was put into the movie, because it takes such a Herculean effort to sit through the entire thing without drifting right to sleep. If you see this movie in your local Walmart discount barrel, walk the other way immediately and don't look back.

TL;DR: Children of the Corn: Revelation is not as much of an abomination as the previous entry, but that's the only thing keeping it going.
Rating: 2/10
Word Count: 1064
Reviews In This Series
Children of the Corn (Kiersch, 1984)
Children of the Corn: Revelation (Magar, 2001)
Children of the Corn (Borchers, 2009)


  1. "The general response I get when I tell people I've set out to watch all ten of these movies is "ugh, why?" and now at part seven, "ugh, why?" is unfortunately kind of becoming my mantra. "

    For some reason, even though I'm 100% sure you've mentioned it more than once, I can never remember there ARE ten of them. Until three days ago, that's as many as there are Halloweens, and more than there are Nightmares, all for a franchise hardly anybody even liked in the first place! Horror is weird.

    "illegally growing tomatoes"

    The natural adversary of corn, no doubt.

    1. I'm sure I'll unearth the fact that there are eleven Children of the Tomatoes movies at some point.