Fritz Kiersch’s 1984 film “Children of the Corn” is not a great film, but it’s an effective low-budget shocker that still holds up from the VHS age. That’s not to say it can’t be improved, but the 2009 remake has not done so.
Directed by Donald P. Borchers, the producer of the original, the new “Corn” comes with quite the coup: a screenplay co-written by Stephen King, on whose classic short story serves as the basis for both movies. His stamp is instantly evident on the dialogue.
The story remains the same: Not-so-happily married couple the Stantons (David Anders and Kandyse McClure) are driving through Nowheresville, Neb., when a kid stumbles in front of their car and is turned into instant road kill. Figuring he has to belong to somebody, they pack him in the trunk and head to the nearest town, which appears to be deserted, but actually is inhabited, albeit only by kids.
Evil kids, to be exact, and infused with a religious fervor for He Who Walks Behind the Rows, their god of their cornfields, to whom they offer up any adults for sacrifice. The Stantons try to elude the kids and make it out of town alive.
Trouble is, you’ll want at least one of them to fail, and I’m talking precisely of McClure’s character of Vicki. Whereas we easily rooted for Linda Hamilton 25 years ago, viewers will find themselves unwilling to grant her an inch of sympathy, because the script calls for her to be a miserable, hateful, soul-eating nag. So, yes, you can understand why the Stanton marriage is shaky, but no, you don’t see what’s wrong with that.
The other problem with “Corn” is the kids. It’s rare to find a truly good child actor, so imagine trying to round up a whole town’s worth. Daniel Newman’s Malachai lacks the creepy menace that Courtney Gains pulled off so well, but still, I wouldn’t want to be around him.
All in all, “Corn” is a decent but unnecessary update — a bit boring, a lot bloody. —Rod Lott